The Lost Children is a spooky book – do you prefer writing stories about the darker, mysterious side of life?
I suppose I do! The funny thing is that when I started writing, I didn’t set out with that intention, because (to be honest) I’m a bit of a wuss about scary books and movies myself. But something eerie or creepy always seems to slink in, whatever the story, and now I go with it, and enjoy the ride. I think I have fun scaring myself.
What about your reading tastes – do you like to be scared?
Oh, yes. A well-told ghost story doesn’t just stick with you, it clings like a creeper. Ghost and horror stories scare me, but I love them. The best kind are the ones where you never quite see what’s creeping up behind you. It’s much more frightening to have something just out of view, something that’s worse in your imagination than it could ever be in real life. The most terrifying thing of all, of course, is when a character you love is threatened. That’s where series like The Walking Dead are genius - it’s not the zombies that keep you watching, it’s the desperate hope that people you love will survive them.
If you were trapped on a mysterious island, what would be the one item you couldn’t do without?
Oh. Oh, this is hard. I’ll assume there’s food and water available, and that laptops or other ways of communicating with the outside world are banned… so I’ll say a pen and notebook. But it would have a photo of my kids tucked inside.
Who is your biggest literary influence?
Another hard one, because I read in a lot of genres and styles… I reckon it’s the writers I read when I was a child. Those are the books that stick with you the most, and it was those writers who convinced me I wanted to be a writer myself. So although they couldn’t be more different from each other, I’ll say Alan Garner, JRR Tolkien, Enid Blyton, Elyne Mitchell (The Silver Brumby), Richard Adams (Watership Down), Marguerite Henry…
Do you have a special place where you do all your writing?
I have a few! I am lucky enough to have a small study, but it’s stuffed full of books and papers and DVDs, and I hardly ever actually write in it. I’m more often found sitting at the kitchen table, within reach of the kettle and (unfortunately) the fridge. But my husband gave me a shed for my birthday last year, and I love it. It’s small and snug and it doesn’t have internet, so I actually get some work done.
What would be the one piece of advice you’d give your childhood self?
Relax. Don’t worry. All the things that seem so terrible now will fade, and you’ll realise what’s truly important. But whatever you do, don’t inflict that home perm on your newly coloured hair when you’re eighteen.
Are there any authors (apart from yourself of course) that you’d recommend to our readers?
Lots! But to pick just a few… Katherine Langrish, who writes amazing fantasy; Fiona Dunbar (especially her Silk Sisters trilogy); Curtis Jobling (Wereworld), Nick Green (The Cat Kin) and Inbali Iserles (The Tygrine Cat)… Oh, and Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum books are so funny I could barely read them to my son for laughing.
If you could give one tip to a young writer, what would it be?
Keep writing! It’s too easy to give up, or to decide there’s something more ‘productive’ you could be doing today. But sit down and write, even if you’re not feeling particularly inspired. Even if you don’t know how it’s going to end, just start a story and see where it goes. You’ll be surprised by what can happen once you start to fill the page. (By the way, this is all stuff I still have to tell myself every day!)
Is there anything you haven’t achieved yet that you’d like to?
Oh, loads. I’d like to write a TV series… I’d like to write a series of books about selkies. And another crime mystery. I’d like to find a whole new and different take on vampires (that’s a difficult one). I’d love to revisit some old characters from my previous books, and find out what’s happened since the original story ended. I’d love to buy a boat and properly learn to sail. And I’d love to have dinner with David Tennant, Tom Hiddleston and Christopher Walken. (All at once!)
Will we be seeing more of the mysterious inhabitants of Ravenstorm Island?
Definitely! The shadowsprye aren’t the island’s only mysterious residents. There are many other creatures, both friendly and hostile. Molly and Arthur’s next adventure involves a ghost ship… and there may be pirates…
To find out more about 'The Lost Children' visit www.hachette.co.uk.