I am congenitally clumsy. I break things. A lot. There is a very good reason why I am married to a mechanic, a man who knows his way around a tool box, knows how to handle a Phillips head screwdriver, and more importantly a tube of super glue. It is sadly a very familiar sight for me to approach him with something in each hand, which before I got hold of it was intact. We’re a good team. I break stuff and he fixes it.
I have double jointed thumbs. When I was a toddler my mother rushed me to the GP, thinking I had accidentally broken them. Given the clumsy confession above, this was perhaps not a ridiculous assumption. As I child I would delight in demonstrating this minor abnormality to anyone who was prepared to watch. It was my party trick, which was all the more rewarding because people found the sight of my thumbs doing things which theirs’ could not so disturbing. I can still do it . . . but have learnt it is inadvisable to do so in public.
I have embarrassing magpie tendencies. I don’t mean that I steal stuff, I just mean I am inexplicably drawn to anything that glitters or sparkles. Diamante and bling, bright enough to need sunglasses, bring it on. I love it all.
I am a big fan of country music. This is a fairly new passion. It began when my daughter introduced me to an early Taylor Swift song. This was back in the day, before Taylor moved from country to pop. I play country music at home, in the car, through my computer, pretty much constantly. I’m way more than just a “little bit country”. Unfortunately my husband is a “little bit Abba”. We are musically incompatible.
The name of every single character in my first book, Fractured, was “borrowed” from someone I knew personally. The vast majority of them were my daughter’s friends. As a result she refused to read the book for several years, claiming it was “all too weird”.
I am a huge fan of Disneyworld. I have been more times in the last fifteen years than I am prepared to admit, because I know I will be judged. On the first few visits we told ourselves we were going “for the kids”. But those kids are now almost out of their twenties and yet still we keep on going. I know my way around all the parks without the need of a guide map. I know where to stand for the best view of the parade, how to avoid the queues, and where to buy the best corn dogs. I am a five-year-old child trapped inside the body of a middle-aged woman!
I am terrified of getting lost anywhere, which is unfortunate as I have no sense of direction whatsoever. Lemmings have a better idea of where they are going than me. When I was a child my grandmother took me for a walk in a forest near my home and we got lost. Apparently I screamed for about an hour as we struggled to find our way out. Last year we visited a maze when on holiday, and I have to confess I was very, very, jittery. I think that forest experience scarred me for life.
When he was just fifteen years old, my father ran away from his London home, lied about his age, and went to fight in the Spanish Civil War. As a child I knew this part of my father’s past, but never once asked him about it. I don’t know why he did it, how he accomplished it, or anything about his experiences. I never bothered to even ask. Shame on me. By the time I became an adult and was curious enough to want to know, he was no longer around to give me the answers. Still, it remains a fascinating and intriguing fact.
Before I worked as a full-time author I was the Work Experience co-ordinator at a secondary school. It was my job to find a week of work experience for 160 fifteen-year-old girls. It was challenging, rewarding and sometimes incredibly frustrating. My most memorable placement was getting a girl a week’s work in a kennel, which fell apart spectacularly on the first day as she had forgotten to tell me that she was terrified of dogs.
I am not a good driver. In fact, I may possibly be a bad one. People rarely admit to this, I notice. Indeed they are far more likely to tell you how good a driver they are. But they can’t all be. Just look at the accident statistics. I get extremely nervous in traffic, or driving somewhere unfamiliar. I never drive on motorways and sometimes travel so far to find a space I can reverse park into, I might just as well have left the car at home. My husband is fond of telling me that I’m not as bad as I think I am – but it can’t be denied that whenever we go anywhere he always takes the wheel. From the moment my teenagers learnt to drive, I moved over to the passenger seat, and there is where I am happy to remain. So, should we ever meet, and I offer you a lift somewhere . . . well, don’t say I never warned you.
This Love by Dani Atkins is published on 23rd March by Simon & Schuster, priced £7.99