What was your favourite childhood book and why?
Well, childhood is a journey, and the books we read on the way are paths and maps and stepping stones. The earliest I remember loving is The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and I love it still (although The Tailor of Gloucester is the one that I will take to the desert island).
My childhood journey through the pages of books included Tolkien’s Hobbit, Joan Aiken and especially Black Hearts in Battersea, Arthur Ransome, Andrew Lang’s Rainbow collection of Fairy Tales, and Enid Blyton (banned from our house by my father, from school, and from the library, but nevertheless devoured illicitly sitting on the floor of W H Smiths, Saturday after Saturday, while the kind staff and customers stepped over my legs.)
Picking one out of the hat: Five on a Treasure Island. The first book I picked up and couldn’t put down till I’d finished it.
Which of your own books is your favourite and why?
To be honest, by the time they’re in print I’ve had enough of them. I groan over them for so long in the creating. The retold Fairy Tales, Straw into Gold was the one I enjoyed writing most.
Why do you choose to read?
It’s a good question. My dog asks it so often, ‘Why read? When we could be outside. Or collapsed in front of the fire. Or chewing our way slowly through the coffee table legs, or eating all the cheese in the fridge.’
You don’t have to read. But it’s the quickest way I know to time travel. Or to access other worlds. To escape, or find a friend. And once you get into the reading habit, it’s like oxygen. Brain oxygen. It will keep you alive.