I was born Tabitha Sayo Victoria Anne Suzuma to an English mother and a Japanese father and grew up in London as the eldest of five.
I went to the French Lycée in South Kensington and was a terrible pupil. I hated school and refused to work and did badly in all subjects except English. I spent a lot of my time writing with my left-hand (I'm right handed) in an attempt to pass the time. In secondary school I would sit at the back of the class and write stories, which I got away with because my teachers thought I was taking notes. Occasionally, when the boredom got too much, I would throw my best friend's shoes out of the window. In the term report the teacher commented that I would make more progress if I didn't always insist on sitting with my feet up on the desk. This still remains my favourite writing position, which is why I now have a reclining chair and a cordless keyboard.

When I was fourteen, I stopped going to school - much to my teachers' relief and my parents' anguish. I got a job as an assistant dance teacher and also worked at a school for children with cerebral palsy. I grudgingly did a few GCSEs via distance learning and only turned up to some of the exams. I wanted to be an actress. My mother eventually tricked me into doing A levels (I thought I was signing up for a drama class). My fervent wish was not to go to university. I ended up going to university many times (the first time was at 17, the last time was at 29 ). I graduated in French Literature from King’s College London. I studied French at university because I thought it would be easy since I already spoke French. It wasn't. Two weeks before my finals, I still hadn't worked out where the library was...
After university, I taught English as a Foreign Language and then worked as a translator...
Eventually, I decided to become a school teacher and worked as a Year 1 teacher at Long Close School in Berkshire. I found that I loved teaching and I was lucky enough to have the best kids in the world in my classes. During my last year of classroom teaching I wrote A Note of Madness (and didn't get much sleep). The following year, I left classroom teaching and began to divide my time between writing and private English tutoring - also teaching at Latymer Upper School in London. This gave me time to write From Where I Stand (a psychological thriller), followed by Without Looking Back (about a family on the run), followed by A Voice in the Distance (a sequel to A Note of Madness) and then Forbidden, which is by far the most controversial and difficult book I have ever written. My sixth novel, Hurt, was published in 2013. I am currently working on my seventh.