I love any kind of boarding school story. GIRLHOOD is my tribute to Malory Towers, although I’m not entirely convinced Enid Blyton would approve of some of the shenanigans of Harper and her friends.

My attention span is exactly 25 minutes long. I set a timer on my phone and write for 25-minute sessions. It’s scary how much more productive this makes me, rather than sitting in front of the computer for hours on end, switching between Twitter and Facebook and whatever horrifying news is happening on any particular day.

Cat Clarke

Cat Clarke

Would You Rather is one of my favourite games, which is why GIRLHOOD opens with the question of ‘Would you have muffins for hands or squirrels for feet?’ (The correct answer is squirrels, of course.

I’m fascinated by bad timing – especially something amazing happening at the worst possible time. The starting point for GIRLHOOD was the idea of Harper’s family winning the lottery the day after her twin sister dies.

Heavenly Creatures is one of my favourite films, so of course I made the girls in my novel love it too. The film is based on a true story of an intense friendship between two girls. Let’s just say it ends badly.

There’s a history of drowning in my family, and I very nearly drowned when I was a child. Harper is a much better swimmer than I am.

I can’t read Young Adult books while I’m writing mine, which makes things tricky, as I do love Young Adult books! I tend to read non fiction when I’m writing – preferably history or current affairs.

I chose clay-pigeon shooting as Harper’s favourite extra-curricular activity to compensate for the fact that I was spectacularly awful at it when I tried it.

Like all writers, I’m a total thief. I stole bits and bobs from my friends and wrote them into GIRLHOOD. My favourite is the moment when one of the characters explains why she isn’t a lesbian. It’s a direct quote from one of my best friends.

I have never been more nervous than when I met JK Rowling. Still, that didn’t stop me telling her about how I proposed to my wife. But that’s another story…