I’m a giraffe. A medium-sized giraffe, because I was tall when I was young, but now—to my fury—I’ve passed the age when you begin to shrink. A giraffe is shy, and doesn’t make much noise: that’s me, I think. The giraffe and I are both good at looking around and noticing things—though in my case I’m collecting material for books, and in hers she’s looking out for the lion who wants to eat her. The giraffe is good at pollinating flowers and spreading seeds while she’s browsing on treetops, and I do those things while I’m gardening. And we both have special friends, though we don’t belong to a herd.
Oh yes, and we both have long eyelashes.
Which book of yours was the most difficult to write?
It’s called Silver on the Tree, and it drove me mad. It was the last in a sequence of five books called The Dark Is Rising, so it had to tie together all the strands of story in the first four books, and rise to a terrific climax in which good triumphs over evil. Writing it took twice as long as any of the other four. There are things in it that I love, though I never did feel the climax was terrific enough. But when I wrote the last page, I cried, because I’d lived with my family of characters through five books and I was never going to see them again.
Which of your books would make a good movie and who would be the star?
One of my books has been a bad movie, with a story remarkably unlike the one I wrote. But I’d love to see a book called King of Shadows made into a film, ideally by Wes Anderson. It’s about a modern boy actor who finds himself back in Elizabethan England, acting opposite William Shakespeare in the Globe Theatre. So the star would be a boy actor whom nobody’s yet heard about. And Shakespeare would be played by.……got any ideas?
What book do you tell everyone to read?
Are you a night owl or an early bird?
In my twenties I was a night owl, sitting up late writing books after spending the day as a newspaper reporter. In my thirties I had young children, so I was up both early and late. Gradually since then I’ve turned into an early bird—because today I live on an island in an estuary saltmarsh, where I open my eyes in the morning to the sunrise. Every day it’s different, every day it’s beautiful. Can I show you one?