She has an excellent website (link above and below) which gives a lot of information about the books with extracts. She has kindly answered my seven questions.
1.Do you have any connection with snails? (or anecdotes, memorable encounters..etc.)
I kept pet snails, in junior school. I've always hated slugs, though. Later, when I taught biology, I kept giant African snails - this was before Health and Safety banned everything, on the basis it might be unhygienic.
2. What is your proudest moment?
I come from a repressed Roman Catholic background, where Pride (capital P) was a sin, and always came before a fall. I do have moments when I'm quietly pleased, in an 'aw shucks' kind of way: like having my first book published. Or having my next book published. Positive feedback from fans pleases me more than anything, though.
3. Have you ever had a life-changing event - if so what was it?
1989 - 1990. I had a series of TIAs. I lost concentration, co-ordination and had trouble articulating. Problematic for a teacher, and devastating for someone who always loved language. As I began to recover, I decided I'd made enough excuses: I had to try to write that book I'd always said I would write. So began my career as a novelist.
4. What is the saddest thing you’ve ever heard of or seen?
A good friend - a refugee - experiencing a flashback. I was caring for her after a particularly traumatic interview, and she woke from a nightmare, and thought she was back in prison. When she looked at me, she saw the soldiers coming to attack her again.
5. If there was one thing you’d change about yourself what would it be?
I'd like to have more energy, so I could get more done with the day.
6. What is happiness?
Deep, Clare, really deep... Happiness used to be a cigar called Hamlet, apparently, but never having been a smoker, I can't vouch for that. Happiness is waking in the morning with the sound of the birds outside the window, the sun already warming the garden, and the scent of honeysuckle lingering in the air.
It's the first thrill of excitement as you begin planning a new novel. It's sharing a bottle of cold wine on a summer's evening with an old friend. Your voice and theirs no more than a murmur on the clove-scented air.
7. What is the first thing you do when you get up?
I open the bedroom curtains and see what kind of day it is. Then I drink lots and lots of tea.