Any questions?

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I’ve updated my Goodreads author profile, so readers can now ask me questions at

Or you are welcome to contact me via this website: send an email via the contact page, or follow my blog, or receive updates about new releases by signing up at the bottom of the home page.

Here’s a sample of answers to Goodreads questions:

Q. Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

A. My ancestors arrived from Britain on sailing ships in the early days of the settlement of New Zealand by Europeans. Family legend has it that one branch of the family originated in France. It got me wondering – what drives a person to leave their home country for the ends of the earth? When I read more about French history, I stumbled on the little-known real-life character who became the heroine of The Last Child At Versailles. What an incredible life she must have had, growing up at Versailles at the time of the French Revolution! As soon as I read about her, I had to write the book.

Q. What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

A. I spent my childhood weekends on the many and varied boats my father built. On one trip, we came across an island with hole in the middle. The mysterious thing was that we were never able to find it again, despite years of island-cruising, map-checking and asking other boaties. It became a family obsession! Reminds me of The Beach by Alex Garland, on a much smaller and way less exotic scale.

Q. What books are on your summer reading list this year?

A. Definitely Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. All the Light We Cannot See was one of my all-time favourite books.

Q. How do you deal with writer’s block?

A. I find a tiny, tangential hook into whatever I’m writing and force myself to write a couple of lines about it. I got blocked halfway through writing Last Child At Versailles, when I had a long gap while moving house. I found a picture of a beautiful period gown and started describing it … before I knew it, I had written a whole scene at a ball (never used – maybe another time!)

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