Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
A: A writer. I flirted with the idea of farming, very briefly.
Q: What are you afraid of?
A: I’m terrified of driving on motorways. And I’m not good with heights. And I can’t even think about losing one of my children.
Q: What’s your favourite colour?
A: Duck egg blue. Some days.
Q: What is your favourite possession?
A: Either some beautiful Egyptian tiles my favourite great-aunt brought back from Cairo where she worked as a journalist in the 1930s/40s, or a wooden bulldog inkwell that belonged to a great-grandfather on my father’s side, which opens when you press a button on its felt collar.
Q: How long have you been a writer?
A: ‘A World Between Us’ is my first published novel, but I’ve been using words to make a living in one way or another pretty much all my life.
Q: Do you write by hand or on the computer?
A: On the computer – my handwriting is illegible, often even to me.
Q: Which of your characters do you most identify with?
A: Elements of all of them – no single one.
Q: Where do you get your greatest ideas from?
A: History and places.
Q: What sort of books do you write?
A: Passionate novels for teenagers about ordinary people caught up in momentous events in history
Q: Which writers/illustrators would you have on your dream team and why?
A: Working with Jan Bielecki (who did the cover and maps for A World Between Us, and is now working on That Burning Summer) is a dream. He is incredibly good at transforming ideas and emotions into images, wonderfully attentive to detail, and I feel very lucky to have been able to be so involved in the whole process.
Q: I loved writing this bit....
A: ‘On the battlefield, faceless figures appear from nowhere. They are anonymous. You may not even see their eyes before you shoot. Further away, a movement in a landscape gives away a position. A glint of metal or a flash of glass. You fire and never see what happens. You convince yourself your enemy isn’t human. Nat thought he had come to terms with killing.
But this was worse than anything he’d known before. His head told him he had performed his duty. That was his job, wasn’t it? He had despatched a threat. But that was not how it felt. He had done something terrible and he knew it. He had acted on instinct, and instincts couldn’t always be trusted. And this was not a battlefield.’