When I started to write my first novel, I found that it was impossible to write without dipping into my personal experiences, taking character traits from people I knew, using locations with which I was familiar and even inter-personal scenarios that I had encountered. Someone once said that ‘a writer should write about what he knows.’ Whether you think this is true or not, I find that an accumulation of education and experience easily overflows into my writing; it is impossible to stop it. My love of social history, for example, means that many of my stories are set in the past but I find that the characters in those stories experience the same inter-relationship problems as their modern counterparts. History teaches you that there is nothing new; we have all been there before. For me, the joy of writing fiction lies in the ability to create a whole new world, peopled with characters of my own making. As a child I never played with dolls but I’m sure this is the grown-up version of it.