So here we are, in a corner of the hut where I write. It’s in our garden, and it’s all made of wood, which somehow makes it a very friendly, soothing place to be. It’s full of things I like – many of them have stories of their own, or have special memories attached to them, like a tiny wooden shoe which my grandfather gave to me, a little boat from my daughter, a bookmark made of tiny shells from the Baltic sent by my son’s partner, a horseshoe for luck from my father.

Over on the left of the picture there’s a pot with pens and pencils, a collection of shells (just because I like them) and some very useful post-its. In the middle, there are some of my own books on top of the collected works of Shakespeare. Underneath that, there are some books about the Stone Age and cave painting, which I’ve been using for the book I’m writing at the moment.


There’s also a print of a picture by Quentin Blake, which shows a girl smiling happily because she’s surrounded by books. Which sums it up, really. As you can see from the picture, I’m not a girl any more. But I still love to be surrounded by books.

And here, surrounded by books written by massively more eminent people than me, is my newest book. It’s called Jack Fortune and the Search for the Hidden Valley. I spotted it the other day on this table in my local book shop, Waterstones. It’s pretty special when something you’ve spent months or even years on, all by yourself in your study or wooden hut, takes on new life as a real book. So thank you to Alma Books and to my agent Lindsey Fraser for making that possible.