1. As a child I was a horror addict. Horror books are perfect books to read if you're shy and a bit weird, because they're always about people who've discovered strange and frightening things about the world, but struggle to get other people to take them seriously.  If YOU are shy and a bit weird and nobody takes you seriously, then you'll probably love horror books too.
2. My character Molly Thompson was inspired by the pupils I taught at a girls' school in Birmingham.  They were earnest bookworms who considered themselves weirdos and said they felt awkward all the time.
I wanted to let these pupils know that there's nothing wrong with being weird and awkward; you can be weird and awkward and still be unstoppable.  I thought that if I could create a character who readers would love to get to know, who was complicated and flawed and brilliant and sometimes completely useless, she could be a household name!



3. It is possible that I am the only person to ever be stung by a jellyfish while proposing marriage.

4. I moved from inner city Birmingham to the Welsh Borders thanks to a chain of events triggered by finding a mangy dog freezing outside a petrol station in Ladywood.  (See picture.  She's scrubbed up quite nicely.)

5. I'm just as clumsy as Molly, and am prone to bumbling into ridiculous situations.  Once I camped overnight in a field in Mali and woke up the next day to find I was on an army target range.  This was after I'd been marched out of the Cote d'Ivoire at gunpoint because I got my French wrong and told the border guards that I was a foreigner with lemon fever.

6. Also, like Molly, I am flipping stubborn.  After taking up writing seriously it took me eleven years to get a first novel published, and another fifteen years to get a second one accepted for publication.  Along the way I have made every mistake imaginable.