I am an early bird, no night owl.  I write early, completing my best writing before noon.  By the time I am sitting with an afternoon cup of tea, my mental energies are in decline.  If I have a deadline to meet, I have to ignore my mental exhaustion and force my waning energies into submission until it's time for a glass of wine.

Anne O'Brien

Anne O'Brien

I have to admit that I wear too much black; skirts and trousers and sweaters.  I feel comfortable in it.  Not even spring weather tempts me into pastels, although the occasional cream blouse might see the light of day.

In a past life I climbed mountains, glaciers and rock walls.  I enjoyed the physical achievement and the excitement.  Now I have hung up my boots and crampons and write historical novels instead.  There's quite a lot of excitement in medieval history too, without putting myself in danger from falling off a cliff.

I live in Herefordshire in the Welsh Marches.  It is a wonderfully isolated area, full of history, old buildings and fantastic scenery.  If I want atmosphere for a scene I am writing, there is always a place I can visit, whether it's the bloodshed and tragedy of a battle or the way of life in a medieval castle.  Perfect for firing my imagination.

I love a touch of sparkle.  Earrings are my favourite jewellery but I am at present into Vintage Brooches.  Nothing like a bit of Vintage glamour.

Where would I like to live for a few months?   It has to be Venice.  I can imagine sitting  in one of the palaces on the Grand Canal, watching the comings and goings on the water.  Or exploring the back streets and churches early in the morning before the crowds.  Not sure I would get much writing done though.

I am a writer of lists and a jotter of notes.  Some of my best ideas about characters appear when I am gardening, which makes a pen and notebook essential.  I also think of perfect conversations when I am falling asleep ... 

My favourite local day out is to Hay on Wye to browse through the second hand bookshops.  I don't think I have ever returned home without at least one book that I absolutely need for research.  And usually far more than one.

The first historical fiction I remember as a teenager was The Passionate Brood by Margaret Campbell Barnes, a novel about Richard the Lionheart and Robin Hood.  I devoured it, stricken by the passion, the drama and the colour of life in the medieval history and I have never been cured of it.  I have recently re-read it and it seems to have withstood the test of time very well.

I am a Yorkshire woman by birth, living there for many years.  Perhaps one day I will return.  I have an ambition to live in York, within the city walls, enclosed by all that marvellous history and within sight of York Minster.

The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien is published by HQ on 4th May (£12.99 hardback)