Our Authors

Gillian Aitken

Gillian Aitken trained originally as an English Teacher, and taught English in schools for a number of years. More recently she concentrated on areas in teaching English where a specialised and highly qualified approach is required. These have included teaching English to pupils with Special Educational Needs, students where English is a Second or Foreign Language, and adult dyslexia work for major Dyslexia organisations.

Ms Aitken lives and works in Sussex, and is a member of the British Dyslexia Association and a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Association.

Hilary Hawkes

Hilary Hawkes must have been born a storyteller, because she has been writing stories almost as long as she has been able to hold a pen! Hilary grew up in Fareham in Hampshire and has been a published author since she was nineteen years old. With a degree in English and Publishing, she has worked as an editorial assistant, as a teacher, and now is a busy mother too. As well as looking after her husband and three sons – and Hattie the dog – she is still writing her wildly funny and somewhat wacky adventure stories. So any similarity between the domestic mayhem experienced by the characters in her stories and Hilary’s own hectic home life is probably not entirely coincidental! (Hilary Hawkes also contributes to the 'not-for-profit' site Strawberry Jam Books. Click here to connect.)

Sue Marshall

Sue Marshall was born in London and grew up in Hampshire. She won a Scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she studied Acting As A Performer. Shortly after leaving College, and following some rather diverse opportunities, she became a drama teacher in both a Theatre School and Girls' Independent School in the South East of England. Here, she quickly discovered just how inspirational drama teaching could be both creatively and as an educational tool.

Sue then taught at Mountview Theatre School in London and went on to take a Theatre Studies Degree. She was still drawn to performing and continued to enjoy working in Radio and TV as well as becoming a Stage Manager and Assistant Director in professional theatre. When the family moved North, she became Head of Department in a West Midlands Comprehensive School.

Later, she found her own experience   as mother of three children led her to an interest in the Steiner approach to education, where she worked in a variety of positions, including Class Teaching, culminating in an Advisory role for the Fellowship of these schools.

In 2006, Sue returned to to work within theatre at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre The REP where, as an Education Officer, she developed and gave workshops both in the theatre itself and in schools all over the City of Birmingham and beyond. Through The REP, she was attached to the Family Learning Services where she devised Drama Workshops for literacy and numeracy within both the Primary and Secondary sectors.  In this capacity, she also gave Workshops for parents and teachers to help particularly with literacy skills, and to enable non-specialists to participate in and employ dramatic story-telling to enliven the curriculum.

Sue is currently Head of the Lamda Department in a Girls' Independent School in Warwickshire.

Mark and Heather Stewart

Both Mark and Heather Stewart are Londoners. But now Worcester-based, they run a wonderful independent toyshop  Wise Owl Toys complete with a left-hander's department.

Heather trained originally at Southlands College in Roehampton, and subsequently taught in a range of schools, from Nursery to Secondary, where her subjects were Maths and Computer Studies. Mark, meanwhile, worked with Barclays Bank in Londond and Bordeaux, then with the Metroplitan Police in Kings Cross where he met Heather and arrested the famous Bauckingham Palace burglar: Michael Fagin! They moved, now with a young family, to Worcester where Mark worked at the RNIB's New College developing a number of award-winning new products, including braille-coded snooker balls, and a money gauge which was taken up by HSBC.

Having a left-handed father, and a left-handed son, and with her background in education, Heather recognised the lack of awareness of the complications left-handers often faced at school and elsewhere. So, together, Mark and Heather opened a shop for left-handers, and developed training courses which, with the support of their left-handed MP, Peter Luff, were endorsed by the Department for Education and Skills and incorporated into the National Literacy Strategy.

Mark continues to run specialist courses for teacher training 'Left-Handed Children: The Right Way to Help!' in School, for Local Education Authorities, Early Years practitioners and for Child-Minders and Pre-School Learning Alliance Groups. He has lectured on the subject in both Europe and North America and is frequently interviewed on radio and other media, including 'In Touch' on Radio 4, and 'The Really Useful Show' on Radio 1. For more information go to: leftshoponline.co.uk.

Pamela Todd

Born in Enniskillen, amongst the lakelands of County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, Pam Todd spent much of her childhood in the 1970s in the coastal town of Bangor.

An early passion and flair for writing, though, was going to have to wait! Education at Glenlola Collegiate Grammar School took her in a scientific direction, culminating in a degree in Biological Sciences at Ulster University and a PhD on the environmental managemant of peat bogs. The microscopic study of spiders, beetles and plant life caused Pam to declare that each of these was an "... amazing work of art."

Moving to Scotland, Pam carried out further research - with the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the Heather Trust. Here, a number of her articles were published in scientific journals. A move towards writing and publishing? Yes, but not quite the creative writing she still had in mind...

Exchanging plant for human life, Pam moved to Novo Nordisk, a Danish-based multi-national pharmaceutical company specialising in chronic diseases. Whilst working with the Company amongst seriously ill children, Pam was inspired to write her first children's stories. These became the Bruno stories and were based on the antics of her own basset hound called 'Fred'. Backed by Novo Nordisk, three of these stories were published by Robinswood  to help raise funds for The Haemophilia Society in the UK and the charitable Novo Nordisk Foundation internationally.

Pam continues to work in the pharmaceutical industry, travelling widely. Until recently, Fred would Skype Pam on her international travels in between walking Pam's parents around the Ulster coasts. Then, suddenly, "Fred's no longer with us," Pam sadly had to announce. "But his true unconditional love, his great protectiveness, and his endless quizzical antics, have provided a wealth of glorious memories and a treasure trove for future stories."

Paul Kropp and the High Interest Series

The Editor

The main editor of the High Interest Series is Paul Kropp. Paul has also written the majority of the titles himself. Each title is re-edited for readers in the UK and Ireland, and for readers in Europe who prefer European ‘English’ spellings and colloquialisms. This editing is only concerned with spelling changes, and with words or phrases whose meanings differ between the original and European English usage, or might cause confusion for some students. For example, the term ‘bathrooms’ in institutional buildings is converted to ‘toilets’ where appropriate.

The Authors

Liz Brown

Liz Brown has loved horses ever since she was a little girl, long before she went to Ryerson University to study journalism. She was lucky enough to grow up on a horse farm with two ponies, Misty and Frosty. Like Kate in Dark Ryder, Liz always wanted to show a horse at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, Canada. She finally got the chance in 2002, but didn’t do quite as well as Kate in the competition. Liz now divides her time between magazine journalism and teaching kids how to ride horses.

Shawn Durkin

Shawn Durkin always loved sport. He has also enjoyed writing stories since a very young age. Although he grew up in Canada, Shawn has travelled the world widely. He now lives with his family in Queensland, Australia, where he is a professional journalist. He has written two novels for the High Interest Series: Shola’s Game and Stealing Home.

Lori Jamison

All the Teachers' Handbooks in the Robinswood High Interest Series have been developed and written by Lori Jamison.
Lori is a teacher, curriculum consultant and author. She has written several books and articles on exemplary reading and writing instruction, including Guided Reading Basics and The Write Genre. She was formerly a teacher and Language Arts Consultant for the Regina Public Schools in Canada, and member of the board of directors of the International Reading Association.

Ms Jamison is an internationally acclaimed speaker on literacy issues and is "...a passionate presenter, well-known for her research-based sessions full of teacher-tested and student-friendly strategies." (Staff Development for Educators, 2007.)

Sharon Jennings

Sharon Jennings is the author of more than fifteen books for young people. Her first success was a picture book, Jeremiah and Mrs Ming, illustrated by Mireille Levert. Since then, Sharon has written a number of other picture books, including Priscilla and Rosy and Priscilla's Pas de Deux, both illustrated by Linda Hendry.

Sharon says "There is nothing I like to do more than write. I become the characters and live inside their story." She has also written several ‘Bat Gang’ stories, including Bats in the Graveyard, Bats Past Midnight and Bat-Napped, all published in the High Interest Series by Robinswood in the UK.

Alex Kropp

Alex Kropp is the author of a number of short stories and non-fiction works used by publishers such as Scholastic in their educational programmes. He has also designed several workbooks, and written the activity-book materials for CBC’s Mr. Dressup project.

Alex became interested in computers from a young age, playing games on an ancient Atari 800 and then programming in Windows using Basic and C languages. He took his diploma as a systems analyst from Seneca College and now works for IBM in Toronto, Canada. Hacker is his first full-length novel. In this book, he was able to combine his knowledge of computer systems with his love of writing.

Paul Kropp

Paul is the author of many popular novels for young people, writing most of the stories in the two High Interest Series now available through Robinswood.

Paul's work includes six award-winning young adult novels, many other High Interest novels, and a considerable number of texts for adults and also younger children. His books for young adults – Moonkid and Prometheus and Moonkid and Liberty – have been translated into many languages, including German, Danish, French, Portuguese and Spanish, and won awards across the globe.

Paul is the General Editor of the two High Interest Series. With the publication of the revised editions of the High Interest novels by Robinswood Press, Paul Kropp's expertise in providing exciting reading, with the reading level carefully controlled, is now extended to a wider audience of English-speakers in the UK, Ireland and beyond.

Paul was born in the 1940's in Buffalo, and studied at Columbia University, both in New York, and later at the University of Western Ontario. Having taught for many years in Canada, he now lives in an 1889 town-house in Toronto's Cabbagetown district with his wife, Lori Jamison. Both Paul and Lori are popular speakers and lecturers for teachers and librarians on issues related to reading throughout North America.

Doug Paton

Doug Paton is a young author and journalist whose interests range from travel to politics to comic books. Doug completed a short fantasy novel at the age of eleven and continued to write throughout high school. He has a degree in journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. Doug’s first novel was Terror 9/11, based on the World Trade Center disaster. That book has been well received in both Canada and the United States. Our Plane is Down is his second novel.

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