I have a husband, Rupert and five children. Together they inspire me, sustain me, entertain me, love me. I love them.
I am one of three girls. I am the youngest. Having two sisters has given me the most extraordinary bond of sisterhood. It has given me strength, but it has also brought doubt: years of uncertainty that my father would have wanted a son.
I love being on my own to think and to write. I have had two large depressions; the last was after The Beautiful Fall came out. I have made changes to my life to try to safeguard against depression. I now live in the countryside, I write everyday. I know that writing enables me to find my way through life.
As a child I made a museum of my grandfather, Cuthbert Drake, in the spare room. He was my father’s father and I never met him as he died young. He was in the army (he went in as a private and eventually became a non-commissioned officer) and an incredible rider. He was a show-jumper and he rode for the army in the Royal Tournament at Olympia. I keep photos of him and his show-jumping medals and one of the silver cups he won on my desk.
I lived for 18 years in Paris. It was a time of both learning and loneliness. Paris is a tough city, it is not the romantic city that the movies and novels and photos would have you believe. You have to be flame resistant to survive in the city of lights.
At the aged of 10 my family went to live in Crosby, Liverpool. I spent most of my childhood there and I loved walking on Crosby beach with my father and our dogs. I loved watching the ships coming in and going out. They signified possibility for me. I loved watching the horizon. The horizon was what I missed most when I lived in Paris.
We used to be sent to stay with our grandmother, Joan Henderson, when we were children. She was brilliant, a journalist who had given up writing to be a wife and mother. She was fierce. She told me I should stop talking about myself. I was aged 9. She told me I should find interesting things to say about a subject or ask other people questions. Since then I have found it hard to talk about myself, unless I am paying to talk about myself.
I love the work of Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Balzac, Madeleine Bourdouxhe, Thomas Mann.
I love riding, I love horses. We could not afford to have a horse when I was a child, but I did have a few riding lessons. I rediscovered riding aged 40 after a severe back problem and one of my depressions. I remember thinking this is what I wanted to do all my life. I am now lucky enough to have a horse, to ride each week and I’m learning to show jump. I even do competitions. My 10-year-old daughter can jump higher than me.
I wear clogs all day. I love them to write in. I buy them at Kerstin Adolphson on the Boulevard Saint Germain. I wear gold clogs and red clogs. I also wear mittens to write, my wonderful mother makes them. I often wear a cashmere bonnet to write. It has a hole in where one of the dogs, Shane, got it. When it is very cold outside I wear two. Those are my two bonnet days.
Bonus thing: I love the London Library.