I am an anthropologist who has lived and worked in Tanzania for several years since the mid-1990s conducting long-term fieldwork in remote rural areas. The worlds I describe in The Grymcat Conspiracy, the families, their ambitions and livelihoods are based on that experience. In particular Samti’s world is based on a year spent living in my wife’s village in central Tanzania on the lower slopes of a large extinct volcano. Some of this book amalgamates stories of her childhood and our children’s experience growing up and going to school there.
The Grymcat Conspiracy is, primarily, an exciting adventure full of humour and awesome plot twists. But it also deals with tricky environmental and social issues that I have been studying for some time as an academic. When I am not working on children's fiction I am a Professor of Development Studies at the University of Sheffield where I co-direct the Sheffield Institute for International Development. I am also an adjunt professor at the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology at Arusha, Tanzania. You can learn more about my academic work at this site.
I have written a blog about trends in African children's fiction and the challenges of writing it given by background here.