Big break: Escape from an unhappy marriage. Favourite authors: Self- analytical women writers such as Jean Rhys, Doris Lessing and Lillian Hellman and, of course, nature writers, people such as Tim Low and Tom Griffiths. Career highlights: The birth of each book. Favourite bird: A male peregrine falcon; so dignified, it’s the perfect predator. Guilty pleasure: As a firm believer in the need for wise use of water, relaxing in a hot bath with a book.