When I was thirteen, something quite amazing happened.
Prior to this, I had been scribbling ideas at home. I had even sent a children's story - Muddles the Mouse - to Penguin, typed on a second hand rusty typewriter, to which I'd received a glowing letter and several paperback books. But my inspiration was drying up. I was young and no longer felt inspired by either books or my writing.
But then I found a bookshop - World's End. This was an age when I was first allowed to trek to town by myself or with friends and it was during this time that we discovered the shop, tucked away in the back streets. It was an unassuming building, hardly the most exciting thing to see - but when we wandered in, we found the thrill of books overpowering.
To be honest, it was pretty intimidating. The back of shop was full of comics and graphic novels. Teenage boys filled the aisles, leafing through the boxes and glaring at us skinny, nervous girls as we slipped in.
I remember rows of new shiny books, stacks of crime journals which pricked my curiosity. And then - on a bottom shelf, in the far corner - was a shelf marked TEEN.
We crouched down and pulled out some battered second-hand gems - the majority of them American. My eyes darted across the text. Christopher Pike, Lois Duncan, Lois Lowry.
My first purchase was Christopher Pike - Gimme a Kiss. This book kept me up at night. It was pacy, thrilling, daring. I never looked back.
Every week I would be in that shop, ignoring the boys at the back - just leafing through my new inspiration. Some days I could afford to buy, others I would just plan my next purchase. I particularly grew to love Pan Horizon books and gained an impressive collection.
The owners got used to seeing me, as I took away another book encased in a crisp paper bag. Inside my head was buzzing with ideas. I knew now that I wanted to write just like these authors.
It was a sad day when the shop finally closed in the late 90's, but of course by then the teen market was expanding rapidly. Things were changing. But I missed my backstreet shop, the smell of old books, the rough carpet against my legs as I sat reading, the gentle bell as the door was opened.
And I'll never forget it.
Perhaps even stranger - I ended up marrying one of those intimating teens that lurked at the back - so at least we can reminisce together.