I would like to thank:
- my primary school English teacher Miss Porter who wrote in a report: “Sheila is another Enid Blyton”.
- my father Ken Skillman who first gave me a stamped addressed envelope to submit my stories to a London publisher when I was 12 years old.
- my secondary school English teachers Mr Thompson and Mr Stanley, both of whom encouraged and believed in me. Mr Stanley said, “I look forward to reading your novels in a few years time.”
- the late Frank Goodridge, English Literature lecturer at the University of Lancaster, who upon reading a lengthy poem I had submitted for discussion at his creative writing course, said, “Who wrote this Whitmanesque hymn of life to the elements?”
- John Labbé, Contemporary American Literature tutor who exerted a powerful fascination for me and for a number of my fellow-students throughout our course. He also (although I hold him blameless for this) turned me down for the Creative Writing degree course at Lancaster University with the words, “I don’t think you would develop enough in three years to get a 2i degree in this subject”. In addition, he introduced me to some of my all-time favourite books, e. g. Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and the poetry of Sylvia Plath.
- Darley Anderson who encouraged me while he was Editor-in-Chief of Sheldon Press and whom I first met at the age of 25 when I went to him for “a general chat about publishing”, having applied to him for a job as an Editorial Assistant. He believed in me, and guided me throughout the writing of my first adult novel (which was eventually not strong enough for publication). He also introduced me to the comic novels of Tom Sharpe and P.G. Wodehouse, as well as lending me his own copy of Sunset at Blandings.
- David, Abigail and Jamie for their patience and support throughout the creation of Mystical Circles.
- And Abigail for her design skills with Photoshop and hours of work creating publicity and promotional materials for me.