Kay Sexton’s ambition as a child was to be a librarian, but a misspent youth on the Isle of Wight resulted in a Careers Officer assuring her that she was lucky her parents owned a hotel, as she’d always have a job as a waitress.
Oddly enough, and by an extremely twisty route that included photographic modelling and being an agony aunt for nudists, she became a charity administrator. While serving as Company Secretary for the World Humanity Action Trust (WHAT) she studied Politics, Philosophy and History as a mature student. WHAT’s trustees included Peter Jay, Sir John Maddox (then editor of Nature), Sir Ghillean Prance (then Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) and Sir John Ashworth (then Director of the British Library), who took it in turns to set her informal vivas on their particular areas of interest, thus giving her an unfair advantage in defending her views at college!
After WHAT, she became Chief Executive of the Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability and then ran The International Tree Foundation. She has presented at the UN and travelled the world examining the causes, and potential solutions, to global problems such as food security, over-population, urbanisation, global warming and animal and plant extinction.
This worthy path was entirely derailed in 2003 when she was invited to write a short story about trees for a charity anthology, the idea being that the charities would share the royalties resulting from the publication. The project never got off the ground but she needed to produce some return for the two days leave that her trustees had given her to write it, so she sent it to a magazine. It was accepted. Somewhat sceptical, she wrote another (in her lunch break) and emailed it to a different magazine. It too, was accepted. Three weeks later she handed in her notice, telling the charity’s trustees that she was off to become a writer. It has never been that easy since.
However, she has had several hundred short stories and articles published, and divides her time between writing, running, and tending her allotment . She’s still quite obsessive about global problems and is the only person she knows who reads UNEP and UNHCR reports for pleasure.