What was your favourite childhood book and why?
So many to choose from – I devoured all sorts of adventures and mysteries as a young bookworm. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett will always be a favourite, and a clear influence on my writing too – it’s so full of magic and mystery and hope. I used to listen to the audiobook every night when I went to bed, and I think the words seeped into my unconscious brain as I slept!
Which of your own books is your favourite and why?
The book I most enjoyed writing was my spooky gothic mystery story The Ghost of Gosswater – I had that brilliant feeling of being lost in an imaginative world: I fell asleep thinking about it, and I woke up thinking about it, and I couldn’t wait to get back to my desk to write the next chapter! I’ve also LOVED working on The Mermaid and the Millpond – a new, short, illustrated novel for Barrington Stoke. It was such a fun challenge to fit all my favourite story ingredients into a much shorter book!
Why do you choose to read?
It isn’t always easy to find time to read, but I’m always glad when I do. I put my phone out of reach and get all comfy with a hot drink. Then I open my book . . . It is time for me to think and to imagine, to escape to other worlds and to live other lives. Reading has given me so much: it has filled my brain with words and ideas; it has filled my heart with adventures and magic. To quote one of my own characters – Grammy, in Sisters of the Lost Marsh: ‘Even if they are made up, stories are full of the truth. Stories are the places where we learn and feel and dream . . . ’