1.My novel,NOT FAR FROM DREAMLAND,is dedicated to the woods and hop-fields of Cobham,Kent(now buried beneath tarmac)where I used to go hop-picking in the 1950s. In the 1980s I was friends with Terence Stamp(a great actor,in my opinion)and we once spent a lovely,nostalgic day in the Kent hop-fields where he went "hopping" as a kid.It rained,and as we shivered under the dripping hop vines he said "Do you fancy a drink,Val?" and handed me a hip-flask.I thought I was about to get a welcome,warming swig of vodka,but it was some sort of dreary herbal water. Stamp is Tee-total.Boo!

2.What inspired me to write my book was a visit to the NHS chiropodist to get a painful corn removed from the sole of my foot.I was asked to fill in a form wanting me to tick the appropriate box for my sexual orientation - homosexual,bisexual,heterosexual,transgender or other."What the hell has my sexuality got to do with getting my corn removed?"I asked.And refusing to tick a box I flounced out.I'm sick of ticking boxes,passwords,filling in forms,the tyranny of social media and on-line shenanigans - and so is Ronald Tonks,the feisty protagonist in my novel.

3.I get panic attacks and suffer from a phobia about travel.I can't stand train travel,coach travel and am terrified of flying,so I rarely leave the North Kent coastal town where I live,in a town not far from Margate's famous fun park,Dreamland.

4.I didn't learn to drive until I was 60(and recently widowed) and I've still not mastered parallel parking..When I took my test I downed

2 cans of Scrumpy Jack before hand to make me relax.I did not then know that 2 cans equals 6 units! I passed!Whoops!

Val Hennessy

Val Hennessy

5..I have been a writer,journalist and literary critic since the mid 70s.As a journo I was sent to some wonderful locations - Maldives,Zimbabwe,Lombok,Assissi,Nashville etc - to write travel articles,and now I'm scared to get on a train.Pathetic!

6.The great actor,Dirk Bogarde,once took me for a slap-up champagne lunch to say "thank you" for a glowing review I'd written about one of his autobigraphies.He was utterly charming and entertaining and we had a fascinating correspondence until his death.

7. I was a pupil at the Gravesend Grammar School for Girls and was unhappy there for the entire 7 long years.The only lesson I enjoyed was English and I never recovered from being removed from all my friends at junior school and, as the only kid in my street to pass the "scholarship" and get to Grammar school,I was accused of being "swanky" and "posh" by those in the street who had been my childhood chums.

8. Not Far From Dreamland is a comic novel,and I think it's a wonderful thing to be able to make people laugh.I just received a letter from a reader saying"your book made me laugh so much I nearly suffered a hernia" which made my day!

9.In the book my narrator is a huge Leonard Cohen fan, So am I.I once met Cohen after one of his gigs at the Albert Hall and he gave me a kiss on the cheek! I didn't wash my face for a week.

10. The only prize I ever won was to be voted Enid Blyton's BUSY BEE OF THE MONTH when I was 8 years old,the Busy Bees being the junior branch of the P.D.S.A.I've always loved dogs and when I'm not walking my two dachshunds - Gertie and Lupin- or enjoying my grannny-duties(I have 4 grandchildren) I spend most of my time reading - about 7 books a week - it's certainly doing my eyes in but it beats TV any day of the week.