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Credo: Novelist Maggie O'Farrell talks critical husbands, Scottish

All writers have to be readers first When I was eight I got encephalitis and was seriously ill; I spent a year-and-a-half in bed recuperating. I ended up reading what was on my bookshelf from one end to the other, and when I finished, I went back and read them all again: I must have read the Pippi Longstocking books, The Secret Garden and the Moomin books more than 30 times, and when I knew them backwards I was able to make judgements on bits that I liked, areas where I thought the dialogue was good and why – and I still use those skills.

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