Where do you write?
At home, on a laptop, or scribbling ideas in notebooks. One of the joys of being a writer is that you can do it anywhere.

What made you become a childrens' author?
Probably because some of my greatest imaginative journeys have been with great fantasies like Lord of The Rings, or Watership Down. But I write many other things too. I'm just trying to finish a play about a woman who was hanged in the seventeenth century and came back to life. A true story.

What are the Ups and Downs of a Writer's life?
The greatest joy is having a reader respond deeply to a book, and children are extremely demanding readers. Writing gives me lots of my own time and, since I was first a travel writer, means I can suddenly pack up my bags and go off on an adventure. I suppose one of the greatest themes of my books is freedom. The downs? Why talk about those?

What are your favourite children's books?
Tolkien's Trilogy, and The Hobbit. Anything by Roal Dahl. A book called Moonfleet. Watership Down, because it understands exactly that talking animals are just a metaphor for the true conflicts of life. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, the stories of Oscar Wilde and Philip Pulman's His Dark Materials. And Harry Potter? Ah, I must confess to a twinge of jealousy and irritation at seeing 500 copies in Waterstones swamping my first book, but who couldn't follow Harry's fantastic journey with delight? I like the films too.

What are your hobbies?
I love the theatre (I still have ambitions to act) cinema, restaurants (far too much), tennis, riding, chess, sculpting and I have become a keen follower of Tai Chi (Wu style). It's too much linked in the West with old folk looking strange on one leg, but since they understand it, they don't care. It's both a Martial Art and a very important health system and, although kids won't believe me, life's all about health.