Michelle Harrison grew up in Essex and is the youngest of three sisters. Her first novel The Thirteen Treasures scooped the Waterstones Children's Book Prize in 2009, "an enchanting and at times terrifying debut that's beautifully written". She followed that with two more stories in the 13 Treasures series, the fantasy adventure series A Pinch of Magic and several standalone novels including The Other Alice for which she won the Calderdale Book of the Year Award. Michelle's path to becoming a writer was inspired by stories told by her sisters as she was growing up, one of which was so vivid it prompted her to dig in the garden looking for evidence of a dead fairy. (She didn't find anything.) Since becoming a published author she still does strange things like asking people to shut her in the boots of their cars – all in the name of research, of course – like Alice.

Michelle says her best quality is her optimism, and if she could be any animal she'd probably choose to be a cat for the sheer amount of sleeping they can do. We grabbed the chance to ask her a few questions about her new twisty mystery, Twice Upon a Time.

Q. Which came first — the idea of synchronised twins and their distinct characters, the concept of being able to alter time, or the mystery element?

A. The twins came first, quickly followed by the time element. I’d come across a news story about identical twins in California who were born either side of midnight on New Year’s Eve, meaning they had different birth days, months and years. I was fascinated by twins being split up by time in this way, and I started to imagine all kinds of magical possibilities as to how they might affect or influence time.

Q. Who are your favourite fictional twins?

A. Keedie and Nina Darrow from A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll. Like many fictional twins they’re polar opposites in personality. What’s especially interesting about them is that Keedie is autistic, like their younger sister, Addie (the main character) and Nina isn’t. So despite having a twin, Nina sometimes feels left out because Keedie and Addie share a special bond that she’s not part of.

Q. Can you recall an occasion when freezing time for a minute might have come in useful?

A. I can think of a few, but top of the list is when my son was around seven months old and somehow launched himself out of my arms and landed on his head. Thankfully, aside from a large bump, he ended up being fine, but it was a terrifying experience from the second I knew I’d lost my grip and that he would fall.

Q. Was Fox House inspired by a real-life location?

A. No. I love creepy old houses in general, and harbour dreams of living in one (or at least visiting one) with a hidden room or a secret passage.

Q. Why did you decide Spike would have tinnitus, and to give it a pivotal role in the plot?

A. My sister has lived with tinnitus for around eight years and has found it challenging to say the least. I realised I’d never seen it represented in fiction before, despite the statistics for it being shockingly high – around one in seven people get it. In a strange twist of fate, I developed tinnitus while working on the edits for the book, so now I have it as well. On the plus side, I can now write about it from experience…

Q. What do you hope readers take from reading Twice Upon a Time?

A. The same as I hope readers will take from all my books: a page-turning, thrilling story that makes them fall in love with reading. Reading for pleasure shaped my life and career, and that’s what I aim to give back.

Q.   What advice do you have for budding new writers?

1. Read. Find reading material you love, whether it’s mysteries, magical adventures, comics or magazines. Reading is crucial to being a writer.

2. Notice things. That interesting place name, or news story – make a note. It could inspire your next story.

3. Get your stories written, then get them right. Don’t fiddle about making the first page perfect, or you’ll never get to the end. Finishing your stories is half the battle!

Q. What was the first book you fell in love with?

A. Probably Five Go to Smuggler’s Top by Enid Blyton. My sister used to read me her old Famous Five books as I was growing up and I distinctly remember this one, because when she refused to read another chapter I picked it up and carried on myself – I had to know what happened next. That was the start of reading by myself and I never looked back.

Q. What does LoveReading4Kids mean to you?

A. LoveReading4Kids is a mark of quality and reliability – a place teachers and families can depend on for great recommendations. It recognises the importance of how reading for pleasure changes children’s lives, and that’s something I’m passionate about.

Twice Upon a Time is available to buy in hardback, and you can find a full review, download the first chapter, and read a letter from Michelle here. 

Scroll down for more books from Michelle Harrison, and find her at -