What was your favourite childhood book and why?
Just one?? Impossible. Books were so important to me when I was young. They were like extra friends. I loved stories that picked me up and swept me away to far-off times and places. So, to pick two (arghhhh! This is painful!) I loved 'The Eagle of the Ninth' by Rosemary Sutcliff and the Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton.
Which of your own books is your favourite and why?
Another impossible question. But, I'll do my best. There are a couple of books that took me a really long time to write. I think those are my favourite, because I lived with them in my head and my heart for longest. 'The Short Knife' is a story set at the end of the Roman Empire – it took me four years to write. I also have a soft spot for 'Operation Eiffel Tower'. I started writing this one when I was ten years old, but not publishing it until I was in my 30s. So, a really long time!
Why do you choose to read? Or why bother? Or what is reading good for?
It is just magic. I mean that. You 'spell' words, but you also cast a 'spell'. It isn't a coincidence that we use the same word for those two things. Words and stories are an enchantment that make it possible to time-travel, to voyage around the world, to meet anyone who ever lived, to be anything at all! Stories are absolutely magical.