1) When I was younger, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I had a real fascination with digging up the garden, to my mum's continued despair, and I used to cherish all the broken bits of old pottery and coins that I'd uncover. I actually think writing books is a form of archaeology, because to me it always feels as if the story already exists, and that I'm merely the tool brushing away dirt and bringing it to life. There is something magical and almost otherworldly about the writing process, and I'm still astounded when I see my finished books all printed and bound. It doesn't seem possible that they came from within me.
2) Writing makes me really happy. I'm at my best, most content state when I'm sitting down tapping away on my laptop, or scribbling notes on a research trip. I always knew that writing made me happy, but it's only really in the last few years that I allowed myself to believe I could turn my passion into a career. There is never a day that passes when I don't feel tremendously lucky to be doing what I do, and what a thrill to have found the one thing that makes me tick more than anything and know that I get to do it for the rest of my life. Amazing!
3) My friends mean everything to me. As I said to a writer friend of mine just the other day, there are so many wonderful things about the publishing process, but what has made it so special for me is the people. Writing folk are incredibly supportive, kind, generous, creative, understanding and brilliant. Since entering the writing world, I have made some friends that I know I will be close to for the rest of my life, and that makes me very happy. My friends are my family, and as I've got older I've realised just how important they are.
4) I have an amazing dog called Max. He's a Bolognese (think a sheep, but smaller and fluffier) and I fall more in love with him every day. I've had him for eight years now, and he's taught me so much about loyalty and love and being selfless - it's a cliché to say this, but he really is my best mate. He's also a great listener, which is great when you're an author who likes to read their books aloud over and over during the editing process! If you're a dog fan, check out my social media accounts, as I post a lot of photos of Max and he is ridiculously adorable, if I say so myself.
5) I love travelling. Given that I write escapist fiction, this is kind of obvious, but I've been travelling for longer than I've been writing novels. It started when I was 19 and took off backpacking around Europe - which was actually when I discovered and fell in love with Prague, the city where I've based my new book - and my feet are still just as itchy now as they were then. The next two destinations on my list are Italy followed by Sri Lanka, but I'm also hoping to fit in Spain and Greece before the end of next summer.
6) My dream is to live in Zakynthos. The Greek island setting of my first novel, My Map Of You, is my second home, and the place I feel most content and at peace. I went there for the first time 16 years ago, then lived there for six months after finishing university, and have been back almost every year since. I love the island way of life, the Greek people, the scenery, the food, the smell of pine and lemons in the air, the sound of the waves… I could talk all day about how much I love the place, and I'm not sure how much longer I can delay the inevitable move. I've even found my dream house already - and it has a ready-made library!
7) I believe that laughter is the best medicine. I don't enjoy being miserable - it really doesn't suit me - and I'm not the type to wallow in self-pity, either. Laughter is the one thing I couldn't live without, and I think it's vital to be able to laugh not just at yourself, but also at the situations that you might find frustrating. There are so many things in life that we take far too seriously, and I'm sure many disagreements or tense encounters could benefit from some shared laughter. It has got me through the absolute lowest points of my life, and I want to keep laughing every day for as long as I'm around.
8) I have a phobia of pelicans. Weird, I know, but there you have it. When I was little, I had a book about a character called Uncle Lubin, who is looking after a baby that is snatched by a pelican. In the story, it was called a "bag bird" (shudder), and I remember being terrified of it. My friends all think my phobia is hilarious, by the way, and I've been mocked about it for years - but I just don't think pelicans are very nice. One ate a pigeon in St James' Park, for heaven's sake! Tell me that's not prehistoric. Pelicans are basically toothless pterodactyls, and they need to stay far away from me!
9) Baby voices are my Kryptonite. Specifically, grown men who talk in a baby voice. Sorry, guys, but it's an instant deal-breaker for me. I once dated a guy who talked in a baby voice constantly, and it used to make my flesh creep off into a corner and hide. If there's even an inkling of it on show now, there'll be an Isabelle-shaped hole in the dearest wall before the man in question can even finish his sentence.
10) I have a history of embarrassing myself in job interviews. This includes the time I fainted and fell off my chair onto the floor during an interview at Waterstones, and when told the former editor of heat magazine that I smelt of fish. Yes, really. I'm also very adept at embarrassing myself in front of people I fancy. I once rang a boy I had a crush on at college, then, when he answered the phone, actually said the words, "Oh, I didn't think you'd be in." WHAT? And there was that time I was gazing so hard at a boy I fancied through the window of Sainsbury's that I walked straight into one of those waist-height bollards and fell right over onto my face. Still, it all makes for good writing material, right?