Q : When did you first know you would be a successful writer?
I never feel successful. I veer between feeling like a failure, and living in hope about whichever unwritten book is simmering in the back of my mind.
Q : Why do you write?
I write because it feels like I have to – as if I have no other choice but to write. I’ve always written – I was the sort of child who scribbled stories and poems almost as soon as I could write, and I made little books and magazines with my younger sister, Ruth. We’d draw the pictures ourselves, and handwrite the pages.
Q : What other novelists do you admire?
Daphne du Maurier, Nancy Mitford, Rosamond Lehmann, the Brontës, Evelyn Waugh, F. Scott Fitzgerald. The list is endless: in fact, I admire anyone who can see a novel through, from beginning to end, without falling to pieces.
Q : Describe the route to your first novel being published.
My first novel wasn’t my first book – I had written non-fiction before then – but I suppose I didn’t feel able to tackle a novel until after I’d written about the death of my sister, in a book called If The Spirit Moves You. I needed to tell that true story before I could write fiction. Afterwards, I wrote a novel called Wish I May, which was accepted by the same publisher.
Q : What’s your advice to an aspiring novelist?
Write about the thing that really obsesses you – you need to feel possessed to get through the long, hard journey of writing a book. And don’t give up when it gets hard in the middle. The middle always feels impossible, as if you’ll never finish.