What are your favourite books?

I loved all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was young, and Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, and The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston. Later on, I loved Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, and Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, and Middlemarch by George Eliot, and most of Thomas Hardy’s and D.H. Lawrence’s novels. More recently, I’ve loved novels and short stories by Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, Alice Hoffman, Alice Munro, Helen Dunmore, Tricia Wastvedt, David Almond. Reading Skellig made me want to try writing for young people. I read lots of books for children and young adults: I love books by Meg Rosoff, and Siobhan Dowd, Nicola Davies, Sonya Hartnett, Tim Bowler...

When did you start writing?

When I was a child. I started with poetry, then short stories. I wrote a novel for adults which was never published, then Blue Moon (published in 2003). I wrote the beginning of Blue Moon on a course with David Almond. It was an exciting moment for me. That was the book that found me an agent and a publisher.

Do you have any tips for new writers?

Read lots. Write lots. Write for yourself; keep a journal or notebook so you can write often, and easily, without worrying about making mistakes. Notice things. Listen lots. Write things down that you think and feel and see and hear and touch. Practice lots. It can take a long time to get a story right. Don’t rush it. Let it take the time it needs. Do lots of re-writing. Talk to other people who write. Believe in your story.

Where do you write?

Mostly in my attic. With a view of the tops of hills, and lots of sky. Sometimes in cafes, in a notebook, preferably with a coffee and an almond croissant!

What’s your favourite place? Favourite Colour? Favourite Food?

I love the sea. You can probably tell that, from my books! I love the Isles of Scilly, and Cornwall, and the Greek Island of Ithaca, and Venice ... lots of places: too hard to choose one! The colour blue. Lemon and almond cake; raspberries.