1) I grew up deep in the Devon countryside, and as a child I'd make up stories all the time. I talked to myself a lot, had imaginary friends and walked through fantasy worlds. And I read anything I could get my hands on.
2) My husband - the children's author and comic book writer Robin Etherington - is the first person to read anything I write, closely followed by my friend Kate Haines. These two are invaluable to me, and I'm very lucky to have their input, wit and wisdom. My mum, dad, and sister always read early versions of my manuscripts too, and are unequivocally supportive. Having people around you cheering on your writing is so important.
3) I'm in the middle of working on my fourth novel, and it's set in Italy. The idea for each of my books has begun with 'place'. I always get excited about location, and writing the setting with accuracy and atmosphere is something I work hard at, and really love. Travel is one of my favourite things, and whenever I visit a new place I always find myself imagining what it'd be like to live there. Writing lets me explore that, and, to an extent, fulfill that wish.
4) While I was writing The Sea Between Us I spent a lot of time in Cornwall's far west, and I fell in love with the area. The particular blend of rugged and beautiful landscape, surf, and art is a completely beguiling one - I've incorporated each of these elements into my novel, and hope I've done justice to the spirit of the place.
5) I work from a hut at the bottom of my garden, and almost always write to music. I play certain albums over and over, their mood working with what I'm writing. With The Sea Between Us it was all about alt-J's An Awesome Wave.
6) My son Calvin is one-and-a-half, and he's changed the way I write. My time's more limited now as I can only work in the afternoons, so I place a greater emphasis on focus and efficiency. I'm still likely to procrastinate, but I'm harder on myself afterwards - I can't afford to let my precious writing time drift by unproductively. Calvin has also taught me a lot about unconditional love, and the joy and fear and multiple balancing acts of motherhood. I feel like I've got new experiences to build into my writing now, and new feelings to fathom.
7) Writing is one of the best ways I know of making the most of life. The human mind is dazzling, really, with its ability to recall, and imagine. I like writing treasured memories into my books, taking seemingly innocuous details - the scent in a particular room, a snatch of music - and setting them down on paper, not letting them disappear. It's a way of cheating time and space - I can write myself anywhere, and into anyone. I can live more lives than one.
8) I always wanted to be a writer as a child, but in my earliest daydreams there were other careers that proved equally tempting. A donkey sanctuary owner. A footballer. Wimbledon Champion. A pub landlord. When I was about eight I came up with a pub called The Golden Mask and wrote all the menus for it, and designed an elaborate pub sign. Before becoming a full-time writer my career was in Advertising. I used to brief Copy Writers with some envy, thinking how great it must be to spend your whole day occupied with finding the right words.
9) I started writing my first novel, The Book of Summers, after spending two winters living in the mountains, working as a chalet chef and in a snowboard shop. Stepping outside of my ordinary life gave me the freedom to imagine what I really wanted to do. My ambition to write and publish my first novel was crystallized among the high peaks of the French Alps. I love knowing that was where it all began.
10) I love it when readers get in touch to tell me they've enjoyed a novel of mine - to know where they were when they read it, how it made them feel, how it even made them think about their own lives. In the last few months I've heard from an American high school teacher, a Hungarian girl living in the UK, and a woman from Madrid. Now, when I read and love a book I always make an effort to contact the author and thank them. It's often solitary, the writing life, and hearing from happy readers is a truly lovely feeling.