I’m a cat fanatic. Dogs are fine, but really, I’m a cat person all the way. I love their independence, their bursts of playfulness, the way they spoil their own dignity by rolling off chairs. I also love the way they can be the most discerning food critics one minute, and be found eating a dead moth with relish the next.
One of my hobbies is aerial silks! I’m not very good, but I love it. I’m lucky that in Bristol we have a brilliant circus training school that runs evening classes. It’s challenging, rewarding and a great break from sitting at the computer.
When I was fifteen, I was fully prepared to try for a career as a ballet dancer; that was, until I failed a major ballet exam… In hindsight, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I switched my attention to academic work instead, went to do A Levels at my local college and eventually (to my great surprise) ended up studying Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge.
I went to a stage school and acted as a child in theatre productions, films, TV shows… I’m not going to mention which ones, because embarrassingly, clips can be found on YouTube. Occasionally, I still miss the thrill of standing in the wings, waiting to step onto the stage.
I used to write weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) cake recipes for lifestyle blog Domestic Sluttery. Over eighteen months, I must have turned out over a hundred recipes. It meant I had to get very inventive with flavours (Marmite Cake? Pimms Cake?). It was great fun, although I definitely put on a good half a stone thanks to all the “testing”.
The most-used cookbook in my kitchen is Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. It’s full of wonderful Middle Eastern influenced recipes, which are easy to make, unfussy and ridiculously flavourful.
I have the tip of a pencil stuck in the palm of my hand, thanks to an accident with a sharp pencil at primary school. You can still see it: a little grey lump under the surface. Weirdly, my boyfriend also has one in almost exactly the same place.
I’m an eclectic reader. I could be powering my way through Philip K. Dick books or meandering through non-fiction, like Lauren Elkin’s Flaneuse or David Simon’s Homicide: Life on the Streets. I love authors like Sarah Waters (I stayed up all night reading Fingersmith) and for short stories Annie Proulx is one of the best out there. I love books with a surreal edge, Borges and E.T.A Hoffman and Bulgakov, but I also love classics like Moby Dick and Don Quixote. I’m currently reading Deathless by Catherynne L. Valente. If I had to pick a favourite author, W.G. Sebald and Alan Garner would vie for the top spot.
My sister Lucy Hounsom is also an author. The second and third books in her fantasy trilogy are due to be published this year by Tor. Our debut books, (The Confectioner’s Tale and Starborn) were published – by complete coincidence – on the exact same day in 2015.
I have a couple of pseudonyms up my sleeve, so you never know where I might pop up next…