What are your 5 favourite books, and why? (not necessarily children's books)

In terms of picture books I love Silly Doggy! by Adam Stower. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt with pictures by Oliver Jeffers and a perhaps not so well known book by Gill Lewis and illustrated by Louise Ho called The Most Precious Thing. It is about the relationship between Little Bear and Mummy Bear and I dare myself not to get emotional reading it but the bottom lip goes and my chin wobbles every time!

I have always been a huge Roald Dahl fan (I know, isn't everyone). The headmaster of my prep school where I boarded used to always read us a Roald Dahl story at night. It's difficult to choose a favourite but I'd probably narrow it down to Matilda or The Witches.

I remember reading Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind when I was about fourteen. This was my romantic phase! I spent so much time reading huge romantic novels that one of my teachers nicknamed me Miss Book. This one had such an impact on me I went into a kind of depression for about three weeks afterwards! I was so engrossed with the story and the characters.

I also just love I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Again, it's the romantic in me. I've always thought I should live in a castle!

Oops – five you say?! Sorry maths was never my strong point.

Who are your 5 favourite authors/illustrators, and why? (not necessarily children's authors/illustrators)

Dodie Smith for I Capture the Castle but also for (of course) The Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking. Give me a story with a dog (or dogs!) in and I'm happy. Dogs have always been my buddies and a significant part of my life.

Roald Dahl for his boundless imagination.

Margaret Attwood because she's an amazing wordsmith and she really knows how to get inside the minds of her characters.

In terms of illustrators I love Cliff Wright's work. Most people will know him for doing two of the Harry Potter covers but it was his bear books that made me particularly fall in love with his work.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I had a pop-up version of the book, which I loved. I think it helped that it was given to me by my godfather – Uncle Peter! I still have it and amazingly it is still intact.

Who is your favourite hero in a book?

Winnie the Pooh! He's a bit of a reluctant hero, I know, but I like that about him. Pug is much the same.

Who is your favourite villain in a book?

Cruella de Vil

If you could be a character from a book who would you be?

Ariel in The Little Mermaid – really because I've always wanted to be able to swim under water!

If you could recommend just one book for everyone to read what would it be?

The Diary of Anne Frank

What book do you wish you had written?

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt with pictures by Oliver Jeffers. I really wish I'd come up with that idea!

Who or what was your biggest influence in deciding to become a writer?

There have been lots of people who have helped and advised me along the way but I'd say my biggest influence has been my mother. She encouraged me right from the start when I was a little girl writing poetry.

What inspired you to write your latest book?

My dogs, past and present inspired me to write about the relationship we have with our dogs. Their love is so unquestioning and they totally accept us. Even when we make them do things they don't like such as have a bath or visit the vet they love us. I think we should all take tips from dogs on love. Their love is so pure and unconditional (well food sometimes helps I supposed but that's fair enough!).

What's the best thing you've ever written?

Crumbs that's definitely not for me to judge!

When did you start writing?

I think I've always liked writing in some form or other. I've written diaries since I was young and as I boarded at school letters were a hugely important way to stay in touch with friends and family. One of my most favourite things is still 'proper post'!

However, I'd probably say that the writing bug properly took hold when I was about 12.

If someone wanted to be a writer what would be your number one tip for them?

See it as a long-term thing and just keep at it.

Is there any particular routine involved in your writing process (favourite pen, lucky charm, special jumper)?

No I don't have a particular routine. I can write almost anywhere as long as it's reasonably quiet. If I have a deadline there is always a spell of panic before the writing takes place. I've learnt to accept this as part of the process.

Do you have any abandoned stories in you 'bottom drawer' that you would like to revisit?

I have written an action adventure story called SMOKE for middle grade readers. Strictly speaking it's not abandoned it's just out there looking for someone to fall in love with it!

I also have a rhyming picture book based on the My Sister Amy poem I wrote when I was 12. It needs a bit of work but I think there's something in it. Amy is well-meaning but can be quite bossy and I think we all know what it's like to have a sibling / friend like that!