A. Property, newspapers, plus odds and ends too numerous to list.
A. Writing books.
A. St Joseph's Convent in Staffordshire.
A. Any of the old Ealing comedies from the 1940s and 1950s.
A. Writing, writing and more writing.
A. Never feel satisfied with what you've done - always believe you could have done just that little bit better.
A. Finishing a book, and knowing I've got another plot already in my mind... Sitting down to dinner with a group of friends - specially if I haven't had to cook...
A. Water tanks. I'm completely neurotic about water tanks - there's something sinister about all that silent mass of water in shadowy roof spaces and cobwebby airing cupboards. I'm not very keen on spiders, either - a friend suggested I gave them names to make them human, but the thought of human spiders was even worse - specially since she suggested calling them names like Arthur. I once had a very proper uncle called Arthur.
A. Can I have the use of a time machine for this one? If so, I'd make it the early years of the twentieth century.
A. I don't think I could single any one person out - there are so many extraordinary human beings.
A. I'm a bit apt to say a character has sensitive hands.
A. Harriet Vane.
A. Misuse of the English language. I visibly flinch.
A. I'm already following it - writing books is the best profession I can imagine.
A. Generosity, good humour, fairness.
A. Dorothy L Sayers, Clemence Dane, Josephine Tey, Daphne du Maurier, Jonathan Aycliffe, John Wyndham, Mary Stewart.
A. 'The Hopkins Manuscript' by R C Sherriff. (Also published in abridged form as 'The Cataclysm'.) I've read this so many times, I'm now on my third copy.
A. Keep writing and try to learn as you go. If you get constructive criticism from editors or agents, take it on board because they really do know what they're talking about!
A. Most readers apparently enjoy the dual-structure of my plots - the fact that the action generally takes place both in the present and in the past - also that there's usually a dash of history within the flashback chapters.
A. For years I'd wanted to base a book on the Edwardian theatre/music hall - my father was a music hall singer/songwriter in the 1920s and it's an era I love. But it wasn't until my brother mentioned, quite casually, that so many of the old music hall songs had deeper meanings, that I suddenly saw a plot. And Ghost Song was born.