My novel is about a kidnapping by a clown. Fear of clowns is a well-known phenomenon called coulrophobia. Thankfully I'm not affected. My main phobia - and I don't think it has a special name - is cotton wool. I can't touch it, and even looking at it makes me feel queasy. 

M J Ford

M J Ford

Hold My Hand is my first novel for adults, but I've written for children for many years. I've even ghost-written books for several celebrities, but I'm contractually bound to keep their identities to myself. 

I have two dogs, Jasper and Olive. At first we just had Jasper, but he was stolen when he was a year old. We thought he was gone for good, and adopted Olive as a stray from Spain. After six months, we got Jasper back when a vet in a fairway town scanned his microchip. I'm not sure who was more put out and finding another dog in the house - Jasper or Olive. Luckily they get on! 

I love dogs. Young, old, smelly, bouncy, massive and tiny. If I weren't a writer, I'd be a dog-walker. 

I once wrote a ghost story for kids. I never really believed in ghosts, but on holiday in Sicily with friends, I was having an al fresco dinner at our remote villa when a girl in a white dress skipped past the table before vanishing. No one else saw her. The caveat is that I'd had quite a lot of the cheap local wine.

When I was seventeen, I nearly died falling off a mountain in Pakistan. I was with a group descending from an elevated pass, when my crampons slipped and I slid down an icy slope. I dropped my ice-axe, and it was only my bleeding fingertips that stopped me falling several thousand feet. I'm not a big fan of heights after that. 

Though my novel is a crime thriller, my favourite books are all romances that end badly or sadly.

My main hobby is fell-running. The muddier the better. My lurcher Olive will come out in all weathers. Jasper the whippet is more choosy and will hide in a bed when it's raining outside. 

I have two children. The oldest, Martha, knows I'm a writer for a living, but since there are no pictures, she's really not interested. William, the younger, isn't bothered either, unless the story is about a blue train called Thomas.

I recently moved back to the town of my birth, after nearly twenty years away. I'm visiting my former school to do a talk for the A-Level English students about crime fiction. It's a proud moment, but makes me feel very old indeed!