I wrote my first 'book' aged around seven. It was about a magical cat and was written on rainbow-coloured A4 lined paper.

Sarah Painter by BW Wall

Sarah Painter by BW Wall

I am utterly addicted to stationery. Pretty washi tape, nice notebooks, good pens, stickers, post-it notes and index cards… You name it, I love it. And probably own it. In several colours…

I make a book soundtrack for each work-in-progress and listen to it repeatedly while writing. The tracks match the emotion and atmosphere of the book and, after a while, it becomes a shortcut to entering that particular world.

I love cats and don't feel properly at home without one. My latest feline companion is a grey tabby called Zelda Kitzgerald.

I was born with a heart condition and had life-saving surgery as a baby. As a result, I have always been very aware of how lucky I am to be alive. Having grown up knowing I almost didn’t make it, I’ve also been plagued by the thought that it all might end at any moment. This has made me annoyingly Pollyanna-ish (I’m super-grateful for small pleasures and always try to be positive), but also pretty motivated. Once I decide I want to do something, I usually dive in.

Given how lucky I was with my health – my surgery was a complete success and I was signed off by the cardiology department as a child - I started wondering what my life and outlook might have been like if I’d had a tougher time of it…  I decided to explore that with the character Stella in Beneath The Water. It was actually therapeutic, and the medical research (something I have always shied away from) was very reassuring!

I write partly because it's a way to live several different lives in the small time allotted. I'm always looking at other jobs, other lives, other choices and wondering 'what's that like?'.

Re. Number 7. Writing lets me explore those possibilities while maintaining my familiar routine. I am a creature of habit and comfort, and my favourite place is my bed!

I don't like coffee but cannot function without buckets of tea.

It took me a long time to build up the courage to write fiction and now I run a podcast and website, The Worried Writer, to help other writers with their self-doubt and procrastination. I've learned that feeling fear is completely normal and the trick is to write/paint/dance/live anyway.