Where do you get your ideas from?

Like many writers, I’m interested in history and legends, and new spins on old fairy-tales. Otherwise, I find landscapes of all kind inspiring, whether the wild hills of Wales, or London street-life seen from the top of a bus.

Yet one of the nicest, and most mysterious, aspects of writing is the way in which your subconscious gets to work. Once I've got my characters established, they seem to have a way of telling their own story.

Do you have a writing routine?

I do my best work first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I'm self-disciplined, but also seem to have quite a short attention span - I need a chocolate biscuit/web-browsing break at least every half an hour! Although I never write much more than 300 - 500 words a day, they're usually quite "final" words, so I don't have to do massive amounts of re-drafting.

Why did you decide to write for children and teenagers?

I love the fact you can write about whatever you want, however you want, and not get pigeon-holed. There's no putting childrens' and YA authors into genres - romance, history, sci-fi, fantasy and thrillers are all happily mixed up in the same space in the bookshop. Very democratic.

It's worth mentioning that although YA fiction is officially a fairly new genre, the coming-of-age novel (or "Bildungsroman") has a long literary tradition. The History of Tom Jones, Jane Eyre, The Coral Island, David Copperfield and The Catcher in the Rye are just a few examples!

What are you working on now?

I'm working on the sequel to The Last Duchess, in which Pattern's investigations on behalf of The Silver Service take her to a mysterious island in thrall to a witch...