Tell me what inspired you to write about your latest book?

Mind Games began when I read an article that suggested that rationality is as important as intelligence. MindGamesNo matter how intelligent someone is, if they are irrational, they may make poor decisions. And I thought what would happen if, in the future, rationality were prized over intelligence? If someone who is intelligent but irrational is considered dangerous? Who decides exactly what ‘irrational’ means? This is where the story started. As is usual it strayed into other directions, with the technology aspects and the virtual worlds.

Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say waterstones website?

I have a look around at reviews when a book is just out to get a feel for how it is doing, but not generally. Focusing too much on reviews – whether they are good or bad – isn’t healthy.

Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?

I wouldn’t say I’ve got specific no-go areas that I wouldn’t write about. Sometimes stories take unexpected directions: the Slated trilogy deals with terrorism, and when I started it I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to write about. I actually left it aside for a while before I decided I needed to write it. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that there are places I’d rather not go, rather than that anything is forbidden territory.

How hard do you find it to keep within an age category?

As a YA writer, this isn’t something I think about at all: I write the stories I want to write. Writers for younger age groups have to be more aware of their audience.

What did you do before becoming a writer?

It might be easier to answer what I didn’t do! I’ve been a lawyer, a scientist, an optometrist; I’ve worked in schools, libraries and for a charity. I write full time now.

Which genres do you read yourself?

Anything and everything! The things that appeal to me most don’t fit easily into a particular category as far as genre goes, though perhaps they do have something in common: I like to read books that have the unusual, the unexpected, even weird factor about them. I’m too good at guessing plots; I love to be surprised. I particularly love it when I don’t see something coming but then when it does, I think – ah, of course!

What is your biggest motivator?

As far as writing goes? I love story; I love playing with words. My motivation is primarily internal. Though sometimes when I’m not loving it, deadlines can prod me along!

What will always distract you?

The internet!

How much say do you have in your book covers?

My UK publisher, Orchard Books, have been really good about including me in the cover process. This isn’t always the case in publishing; I’m very lucky!


As a child were you a great reader?

Yes! I read everything I could get my hands on.

Which book shop is your favourite?

One of my favourites is my closest independent, The Book House in Thame. I also love Blackwells in Oxford, and SilverDell Books in Kirkham.

What can you not resist buying?

Notebooks! I have a ridiculous collection of notebooks, more than I could ever possibly use. In all shapes and sizes, but I particularly like to write in A4 coil bound hardback lined notebooks with interesting covers. Whenever I see one I like, I can’t resist.

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?

I used to always write first thing in the morning, but lately it’s been more in the afternoons – no idea why the change, it just seems to work better that way at the moment. I like to write at home, and usually listen to Mark Knopfler while I write. I’ve never been good at writing in cafes or busy, noisy places.

How many books in your own to be read pile?

More than I could possibly count! There are piles of books all over the house; there are bookshelves on every available wall, and they’re all full. Every now and then I try to cull some of them so I can make room, but it’s painful.

What is your current read?

 I’m writing a first draft at the moment, and I don’t read very much when I’m writing. It’s too easy to absorb ideas and writing styles from other books. When I take a break I’ll read loads, but try to stick to stuff that is different to what I’m writing. Right now I’m eyeing up a few by Sally Nicholls and Frances Hardinge, plus I’ve got a bunch of non-fiction I’m itching to get into. Quantum physics and dark matter at the moment!

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