The 5-minute Interview: Joanne Harris, author

'I used to be an accountant. It was hell. It didn't last very long'

Harris, 44, is the best-selling author of 'Chocolat'. Her latest novel, 'The Lollipop Shoes', will be available in paperback from 21 April

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be...

The boring answer is probably doing some work. No, actually I would probably be boiling potatoes for my 14-year-old daughter. She's a carbohydrate junkie.

A phrase I use far too often...

"That totally kicks ass." Again, my daughter's fault. If I am in a particularly ironic mood, that phrase ends with "dude".

I wish people would take more notice of...

What they drop on the floor. When I go for walks I carry a plastic bag so I can pick up litter.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was...

Surprising things happen to me every day. Recently, I would say being invited to Windsor Castle for the state visit of the French President. I was in a permanent state of surprise – and I was the only person not wearing a tiara.

A common misperception of me is...

There are so many but the most common is about chocolate. People give it to me all the time, but I never eat it. I am not at all a chocoholic. I would rather eat anchovy toast.

I am not a politician but...

I am not sure there is a "but", but I am a radical something. Possibly, a radically loose cannon.

I'm good at...

Procrastinating. I have an advanced degree in procrastination and another one in paranoia.

I'm very bad at...

Maths. Anything to do with numbers at all. Anniversaries, birthdays, I always forget them. The funny thing is I used to be an accountant. It was hell. It didn't last long.

The ideal night out is...

A night in with my husband and daughter. We make popcorn and watch movies. We go through phases – right now its Korean horror films.

In moments of weakness I...

Hide under the duvet and probably eat – sometimes at the same time.

You know me as a writer but in another life, I'd have been...

A beachcomber. I'd collect rubbish from the water's edge, make it into art and sell it to the Tate Modern.

The best age to be is...

This age – whatever "this" is now. Anything else is too sad to contemplate.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this...

If you want something you can have it but you have to do some work. It's the ethic my mother brought me up with.

Michelle MacNeill

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