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Zoe Barnes, author of numerous novels, including her latest bestseller Love Bug, talks about the reality behind the glamorous myth of a novelist’s lifestyle.

What inspires you to write?
Above all, ordinary people and ordinary life. In particular, the scrapes and dilemmas that ordinary people find themselves in. I try to look at these situations with humour, in a slightly sideways kind of way.

How long does it take you to write a novel?
Depends on how much research is needed, but somewhere between four and six months.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
Oh yes! I treat writing as a job. I sit down at my computer after breakfast and - apart from errands and so forth - keep at it until tea-time. I try to have a day off on Saturday, but often work on Sunday and if there's a big deadline it can be a seven-days-a-week job.

Has your life changed since you became a novelist?
To some extent, but not as much as people tend to think. You still have to clean out the cat's litter tray and go to the supermarket! The glamour and money angles tend to be vastly overplayed by people who aren't writers themselves. Only a very few people live Hello-style lives, and I'm definitely not one of them! Also, financial insecurity is an ever-present concern when you're self-employed and dependent on book sales.

How do you cure writer's block?
By making myself write, even if what I write is rubbish and has to be junked in the end. I have a motto: 'something is better than nothing'. If there's something on your screen, you can ask yourself why you don't like it, what's wrong with it, and change it. If the screen is empty, you have nothing to work with.

Who is your all-time favourite author?
Oh dear, what a terrible question! I have to say that I am very fond of the Victorian children's author E Nesbit, although 'The Railway Children' is actually one of my least favourite Nesbit books. She really knew how to get inside the heads of children (very rare at a time when authors habitually talked down to them) and wrote from their perspective with affection and wonderfully clever humour.

I'm a big fan of anything that is genuinely funny - Janet Evanovich is a favourite of mine, as is Carl Hiaasen.

Also I love English horror novels. I used to be a huge James Herbert fan, but I haven't liked the recent novels quite so much as the earlier ones. I'd love to see a renaissance in English horror writing: the shelves tend to be packed with Stephen King and very little else.

What are you reading at the moment?
'Point Blanc', the children's adventure novel. I love kids' books, and thought 'Artemis Fowl' was brilliant.

What's the biggest myth about being a writer?
That we all swan around in our dressing gowns, waiting for inspiration to strike and just watching the money roll in ... Also, that it's easy!

What advice would you give budding authors?
Only go for it if you really, really want to do it. It's hard work, there's no guarantee of success and you'll probably get knocked back loads of times before you get your big break. Be determined, and listen to advice. Also, don't write just for yourself, write for your readers. A book's not a lot of use if nobody wants to read it!

What can readers expect from Zoe Barnes in the future?
Hopefully, more Zoë Barnes novels ...! And probably a few developments in other directions, too. Of course, that all depends on whether people keep wanting to read what I write ...