Jane Austen’s great-great-great-great-great niece! How did you learn about your connection?
I always vaguely knew about it because my great aunts had some lovely bits and pieces that had been passed down the family. There were miniatures of Austen family members including my ancestor, Sir Francis Austen, Jane’s brother. I used to love looking at these when we visited. The pictures are now in Jane Austen’s House Museum so I can visit them there. Jane Austen had over thirty nephews and nieces, and although they didn’t all survive to adulthood or have children, the family tree is huge. There are hundreds of us Austen descendants.
Is Jane Austen the main inspiration for your work?
She is an inspiration, along with many other writers. It is also about wanting to tell particular stories, to create something that people will find moving, interesting and entertaining.
What would your best writing tip be for our young writers?
Read. If you want to be a writer, be a reader. Jane Austen gave this advice too.
Why did you decide to create a children’s book?
I love picture books. I’m also really interested in history and the Regency period in particular, so I loved the idea of working with the publishers and the illustrator, Katy Dockrill, who has done such beautiful work. We wanted to get all the details right and to create a book that would give a really good sense of the stories and of Jane Austen’s world.
What is your favourite Jane Austen novel and why?
It’s Emma. It is so perfectly plotted and really funny. The relationships in it are so perfectly drawn. I love the way Jane Austen used the village setting. It’s such a joy to read – just a perfect novel.