The first thing you should know about me is how to pronounce my name. Aoife is an Irish name that might be more common in the United Kingdom but it has been confusing booksellers and readers all over Australia. On my book tour I was delighted to meet people who were saying it correctly only to find my publicist had been coaching them behind the scenes. Aoife is pronounced Eefa (like Eva but exchange the v for an f). Here's a handy internet link. -

Aoife Clifford by NIcholas Purcell

Aoife Clifford by NIcholas Purcell

I started writing for a New Year's Resolution. I was having a lovely time at home raising my babies but the analytical side of my brain was turning to mush and I was forgetting how to spell. I decided to write a short story for a crime writing competition. Taking the advice of write what you know I set my murder mystery in a nursery school and won, probably because no one had ever combined the two before.

Short stories can have a long life. They are a great way to develop your writing muscles, experiment with different 'voices' and styles, write about different subjects, work to a deadline and just as importantly learn that all projects will one day be finished. I think if I started with a novel it would still be sitting unfinished in the bottom drawer. This year as well as my novel, my short stories will be published in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

I hate housework but sometimes it can be the inspiration I need. I had the first thought bubble for my novel All These Perfect Strangers while doing the wash-up. I also find watching swimming lessons very helpful when I'm stuck. It must be because I'm a Cancerian.

The school gate is a great source of information. My children are at a large government school and if I've got to do some research there is always a parent I can ask - police, psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors and computer technicians. I'm still looking for a forensic scientist.

I had my characters analysed by a psychiatrist. A school friend is a psychiatrist and an avid reader. It was insightful and informative because I wanted my novel to be psychologically plausible as well a good read. I've got her booked for novel number 2.

I gave the protagonist of All These Perfect Strangers my geography but that's it. My novel, involving murder and mayhem at university, often leads to readers asking me what I got up to in my first year. The truth is nothing nearly so interesting or illegal as my characters. There was a famous murder case at university where the accused was a law student the year below me. She was found guilty of manslaughter and the case was the subject of a well-known book and now a movie. Although I took nothing of the facts for my novel, it brought home to me how complicated these cases are, that there are often competing interpretations of the events even when there is no dispute as to what happened and that the grief and anger lasts a lifetime. All of this informs my writing.

I don't know if writing is in the blood, but my grandfather was the Irish poet and playwright, Sigerson Clifford. He focused on the pastoral Ireland of his childhood, particularly Kerry where he grew up. I write about murders and crimes set in Australia, so there isn't much of a crossover, until I discovered recently that he had written a crime novel as well.

Based on the infamous murder of a young woman, Ellen Scanlan, by her husband or his manservant in 1819 (both were hanged for it), it's a fascinating story as it seems so typical a death of its kind and yet so shocked Ireland that it has been the subject of countless books, plays and movies.

Writing something funny is harder than writing something sad or scary. I think this is because there is broad agreement as to what is frightening or tragic but what makes us laugh can be quite individual. A writer who can do all of these things in the one novel is a genius. A recent example is Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. She also included one of the most perfect plot twists I have ever read so don't google it, just read it. Heart-breaking, funny, profound, perfect, it's a masterclass in writing.

Eating chocolate does make writing easier. I wish it was spinach but it isn't.