The series is set in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in an after school club called ZAPS (Zetland Avenue Primary School). The club, an old mobile hut on the edge of the school playground, opens from 3.30pm to 6.00pm school days and 8.00am - 5.00pm during the holidays. Much of the action centres round the mobile hut.
The supervisor is called Mrs Jan Fryston and her main assistant is Mrs Ann McCormack, although throughout the series there are other helpers too such as Denise and Mr Wesley. Teachers at the primary school play a part, too, especially Mr Sharkey, the headteacher.
The club is open to anyone between the age of 5 and 12 who registers. Members mainly come from ZAPS but others, like Lloyd Fountain, who is home-schooled, attend too. Each book focuses on a different character, set against an after school club theme. In Sammie's story, for instance, the theme is raising money for Children in Need, in Jolene's, it is 'Fun for All.'
Following the success of my Simone books, my publishers wanted me to write a number of books based around a group of friends for 8-11 year old readers. The initial idea was to have four books in the series, with each book having a different character telling a story.
The first thing I had to do was find what hadn't been done. I checked out my local library and saw so many series - Goosebumps, Animal Ark, Babysitters, Sleepover Club, Animorphs, Horrible Histories...etc. etc. What could I do that was fresh? The idea for after school club came quite quickly, I recall.
After School Clubs in my area were fairly new at the time - I had helped set one up in my local primary school - so I thought that's it! These clubs take children from all ages, all backgrounds, all needs - perfect! Many of them are in or near a school but usually in a long abandoned classroom or, worse, a school hall that has to be shared. That had to be an issue, too. What if the school wanted to use the hall and the after school club were there? Bound to be problems and problems are where I'm at.
Let the fun begin!
Read more interview in the ASC books pages