What inspired you to write Rose in the Blitz?
My mum was suffering from memory loss and starting to live in the past more than in the present. I wished I could go back with her and literally share her memories. This wasn't going to happen, of course, so I sent Rose back instead, to experience wartime London alongside her great aunt.
Is there a reason why Rose is the main character in Valentine Joe and Rose in the Blitz?
I suppose she's a version of me. I put her in both books because of her special ability to experience the past - I thought it would be a bit unbelievable to have more than one person who could do this. And I like her!
Both of these books have been related to and set in a time of war, is there a reason for this?
I grew up surrounded by stories about both world wars. The lives of all four of my grandparents had been changed by WW1 and both my parents had vivid memories of WW2. So their stories became part of my own life and my own memory.
From what age have you been writing and what inspired you to become an author?
I liked writing stories and poems when I was little, and then, when I was a bit older, long, long letters to my friends whether they wanted me to or not. I think things didn’t seem real until I’d written them down. But I didn't think of becoming an author (I still feel a bit weird when anyone calls me that, it feels like showing off). I thought they were special people, not people like me. I became a writer for children's TV and then, when I had the idea for Valentine Joe, someone asked me if I thought I could write it as a novel. I said yes!
What was your favourite thing about writing Rose in the Blitz?
Feeling like I was there, in wartime London, with Rose and her Great Aunt Cosy, and with my mum.
If you could give an aspiring writer one tip, what would it be?
That voice in your head, the one that says, 'That's a bit rubbish, no-one'll want to read that'? Tell it to shut up! Oh, and write very fast. That helps.
Do you have a book that you enjoyed writing the most?
Well, I've only written three. Other than the two 'Rose' books, I wrote a version of Jane Austen's Emma, which was fun to do as I didn’t have to work out the story. But I've enjoyed my own books more.
Finally, who is your favourite author?
Too difficult! When I was little I would've said Lewis Carroll, because Alice in Wonderland was the first book I read where I felt I was inside the writer's head. Then, when I was older, I would've said Colette, who was a French writer who used her own life as material. Now, I don’t know, there are so many. But I recommend Haruki Murakami to anyone who hasn’t read his stuff, because his books are very strange, yet strangely easy to read. Everyone seems to like them.