Like many writers, I’m interested in history and legends. The central idea for The Game of Triumphs came from Tarot card mythology, which lead me to explore role-playing games. My new project about a modern-day witch-hunt involved quite a lot of research into sixteenth and seventeenth witch-finders, as well as British folk lore. Otherwise, I find landscapes of all kind inspiring, whether the wild hills of Wales, or London street-life seen from the top of a bus.
Yet one of the nicest, and most mysterious, aspects of writing is the way in which your subconscious gets to work. Once I've got my characters established, they seem to have a way of telling their own story.
I do my best work first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I'm self-disciplined, but also seem to have quite a short attention span - I need a chocolate biscuit/web-browsing break at least every half an hour! Although I never write much more than 300 - 500 words a day, they're usually quite "final" words, so I don't have to do massive amounts of re-drafting.
I love the fact you can write about whatever you want, however you want, and not get pigeon-holed. There's no putting childrens' and YA authors into genres - romance, history, sci-fi, fantasy and thrillers are all happily mixed up in the same space in the bookshop. Very democratic.
It's worth mentioning that although YA fiction is officially a fairly new genre, the coming-of-age novel (or "Bildungsroman") has a long literary tradition. The History of Tom Jones, Jane Eyre, The Coral Island, David Copperfield and The Catcher in the Rye are just a few examples!
I'm working on the sequel to The Last Duchess, in which Pattern's investigations on behalf of The Silver Service take her to a mysterious island in thrall to a witch...