Writers and characters

One of the questions I'm often asked is, "Are you more like Alex Rover or Nim?" Of course, like most writers, there's some of me in all my characters. Most people are a mass of contradictions; of thinking different things at different times, and of wondering how different life might have been if we'd followed some other path. When I'm writing, a character grows out of one of those paths – and often takes it to extremes!

So, like Nim, I love animals, and think of my pets as friends with their own personalities. ("You talk to them as if they were people!" people often say. Well... yes. I don't expect them to respond like people, but the more you talk to a dog, the more they understand.) And though I'm not as physically skilled and courageous as Nim, I'm fairly determined when I want to do something, so it's easy to imagine being like Nim.

But like Alex, I spend a lot of time living in my imagination. I do most of my research through books, emails and internet - though for Nim at Sea, I actually went to New York, and walked the route I planned her to take (though I took the Staten Island ferry rather than swim in from the harbor!) I was talking to someone the other day and mentioned that I hadn't been to our nearest town this year. She was horrified! "What do you do all day?" she asked. "Work," I answered.("And walk the dog...")

Of course, I have actually traveled quite a lot this year, which is maybe why I really don't feel like leaving home much when I'm here. So it's easy to pull that out to enter the mind of Alex, a writer who's become so reclusive that she's now afraid to leave her home at all...