A. Local newspaper reporter, sub-editor, university lecturer
Q. Favorite job
Q. High school and/or college
A. Girton College, University of Cambridge
Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?
A. It changes all the time but Vaughan Williams, Ravel and Debussy are on heavy rotation right now.
Q. Favorite movie
A. Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca
Q. Favorite television show
A. I love British crime series - Morse, Waking the Dead, Silent Witness, all sadly now defunct but living on forever in DVD box sets. The Shadow Line by Hugo Blick was exceptional.
Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
A. Live to write, write to live
Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Death or Glory
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. In this world, nothing can be perfect; but I'd settle for a family picnic at Calke Abbey, a good day in the Rare Books Room at the University Library, or riding my favourite horse up the meadow and looking down to see the clouds sweep across the valley where my husband is watching cricket on the village green.
Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Losing my loved ones
Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. Taking family and friends to lunch at an authentic Italian restaurant
Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. It's more than one person; elements in the character of Siegfried Sassoon, Vita Sackville-West and the French writer Colette all strike a chord with me.
Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. Former intelligence supremo Dame Stella Rimington
Q. What do you regret most?
A. I never got to know my grandparents. My father's parents died in the flu epidemic of 1918, and my mother's parents were a long way off in Wales
Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. Ballet dancer.
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. My daughters
Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Lapses of self confidence
Q. What’s your best quality?
A. I'm extremely generous
Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. A former SoE agent recalling her exploits in Occupied France
Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I'm an entertaining and compelling speaker.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Sherlock Holmes - brilliant, brave, fit. I don't have a favourite Holmes but Robert Downey Junior and Benedict Cumberbatch have done a brilliant job.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Gatehouse from The Shadow Line. That's if he really is a villain . . .
Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. I would tell Anne Boleyn that her daughter turned out very well, all things considered.
Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. Sluggish broadband
Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Horse-riding, dancing, swimming and cooking.
Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Honesty and intregity coupled with a humane understanding of human nature.
Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Let's say, one type of thing, and I'll go for Italian food.
Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd), There Is a Light Which Never Goes Out (The Smiths) Tonight the Streets are Ours (Richard Hawley), Strauss's Four Last Songs and (cheating a bit here) the song cycle A Shropshire Lad
On Books and Writing
Q. Who are your favorite authors?
A. In no particular order: Marcel Proust, Colette, Vladimir Nabokov, P D James, A E Houseman
Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. I Capture The Castle (Dodie Smith), Bleak House (Charles Dickens) A Study in Scarlet (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) Love in a Cold Climate (Nancy Mitford)
Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
A. I really enjoy dipping into the Oxford Book of Quotations
Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
A. Believe in yourself and shoot your inner critic.
Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
A. There were so many fascinating people in your book