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'Just get it all down.'

2 March 2009

'I first started writing when I worked as a copywriter in an ad agency. I was dreaming about having babies, but I also got an idea for how to begin a novel and started writing under the desk at work. They told me my heart wasn't in it, and I remember going home and telling my husband that I had lost my job, but not to worry because I was going to finish my novel. He wasn't particularly impressed.

It was 18 years and 10 books ago and what I was writing seemed to strike a cord. My main characters have grown up just as my readers and I have, so in my latest book there are darker themes than before. Much of what I write is inspired by the ups and downs of my friends' lives, and life does become more complex.'

Advice to new writers: 'Just get it all down without being too self-conscious. I carried a notebook, but I kept losing it; so I just store ideas in my head. With thefirst draft you should get it all out, then revise later. I never know what will happen when I sit down and that's what keeps me hooked on writing. I want to know how it will end.'

Catherine Alliott, author of A Crowded Marriage, in the Sunday Telegraph's Stella