Where are you now and what can you see?
I'm in my kitchen in Broadstairs [Kent]. All I can see is our rather damp and bedraggled garden.
What are you currently reading?
'An Intimate History of Humanity' by Theodore Zeldin. It's partly research for my next book, but also a great pleasure. I'm particularly interested in isolation within human relationships – people who feel themselves alone in the crowd.
Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him
JRR Tolkien, for the breadth and brilliance of his storytelling. In my mind he's still unrivalled in creating the most fully imagined worlds. He was one of the first authors who made me want to be a writer. I can remember reading him under the covers through the night.
Describe the room where you usually write
I'm not very fussy – anywhere with a heat source! But my favourite is the bedroom of our house in France [near Biarritz]. It has stone walls and high beams across the ceiling, and a lovely view over cornfields and a walnut tree.
What distracts you from writing?
Kids: I have four children - 23-month-old twins, and two boys, aged four and six. To be honest, once they're in bed – practically nothing. I work on an old laptop that isn't even connected to the internet.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
Alice, in 'Alice in Wonderland'. When I was a little girl, I really identified with her – "Curiouser and curiouser"! That sense of being interested in everything, but maybe a little too practical in my approach.
What are your readers like when you meet them?
Usually very kind and generous with their comments.
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?
My Mum. She raised three children in quite difficult circumstances. As a mother myself now, I can see what she did was impressive.
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