25 Random Facts About Leila

1 I was brought up in Libya. (It's in North Africa, next to Egypt, on the Mediterranean coast).

2 I'm half Bangladeshi and half English.

3 When I was living in Libya, the Americans bombed it, and me and my family had to sleep in the car all night in case our flat got bombed.

4 I went to boarding school for two years.

5 The first flat we lived in in Libya had cracks in the walls through which armies of ants invaded. I got on quite well with the ants, they were like pets. (Didn't like the cockroaches, though. You had to stomp on them, it was disgusting).

6 When I was a teenager, my dad went to work in Malaysia and we went out to see him in the summer holidays. I found a really long, saw-edged tooth on the beach there. I still wonder if it came from a Monster of the Deep...

7 Once when I was little I went to Bangladesh to see my relatives and we went to Cox's Bazaar beach. Someone made me a present of a dead horse-shoe crab. I really wanted to take it home on the plane but my parents said, no way.

8 If I had to give up either chocolate or tea, forever, I'd give up chocolate.

9 My favourite book is The Owl Service by Alan Garner.

10 I live with a Danish saxophonist, who makes weird and wonderful music.

11 I used to live in Brussels, which is actually a really cool city. But now I live in Birmingham - which is also actually a really cool city.

12 I used to work as a children's bookseller, which is a wonderful job because you get to read all the new books.

13 I'm scared of flying, and of sharks. But not of flying sharks, because they don't exist. (I hope).

14 My hair has grown an awful lot since that photo was taken.

15 I love sewing boxes. I'd like to collect them but so far I've only got two.

16 I spend lots of time in the south of Italy. The Mediterranean is one of my favourite places, because you can climb on the rocks and go to the beach and explore ruins, and it's almost always lovely and warm.

17 Another of my favourite places is Barnsley in Yorkshire. My gran used to live there. In the holidays we would go and see her and I would spent time in Barnsley library reading all the books we couldn't get in Libya, and eating prawn cocktail crisps (which we couldn't get in Libya, either).

18 I want to live in this house.

19 I have a pair of Author Socks that my friend knitted for me.


The stripes on Sock One are the barcode from CHIPS, BEANS AND LIMOUSINES. The stripes on Sock Two are the barcode from SOCKS, SHOCKS AND SECRETS. 

20 I used to want to be an archaeologist, like Indiana Jones. I still do, to be honest. Here is a picture of me in a tomb! (Unfortunately it was raided by someone else, long before I got there).


21 I've got two Masters degrees, one in Children's Literature and one in Writing.

22 I did have a small blue fish called Bob. But he tragically died.

23 I am such a bad swimmer that I can't even do a length in an ordinary swimming pool.

24 Despite being 33 years old, I still can't drive and go everywhere by bus, train or foot.

25 Being a writer is really hard in some ways, but it is still my dream job.