Tessa Strickland was brought up in rural north England, the second of five children. She spent her childhood amid hens, horses and haystacks, and could often be found immersed in books or exploring the local woods and fields on her pony. A succession of interesting guests from around the world passed through her parents' house, kindling a lasting interest in other cultures. Tessa co-founded Barefoot Books with Nancy Traversy in the early 1990s, and has gone on to create many highly acclaimed children's books, including the numerous books she has written under her pseudonym, Stella Blackstone. She is also mother to three adult children, a yoga practitioner and a licensed psychotherapist. Tessa now lives and works in Somerset, southwest England.