"Never underestimate your audience. If you think that eight-year-olds aren't interested in major philosophical and political issues you are completely mistaken. Put in clever plot twists that link books two and book 10 in a complicated fashion. I promise you, the eight-year-olds will notice, and they will write to you saying how much they appreciate it."
Reading is, and always has been, absolutely integral to my life. Both my parents were librarians, and books were everywhere at home. English was my favourite subject at school - what a doss, you just read a book and then wrote about it - and, inevitably, I ended up going on to read English at university.
One day, books will be like antiques. A standard paperback will cost hundreds of pounds depending on the year and edition. War and Peace will be out of print. And I will be an old lady with only dreams of ghosts of cats, telling the illiterate kids on the block how these same streets were once paved in books, each one costing less than a halfpenny.
The pleasures and benefits of reading are still denied to many children - in 2012, one in eight left primary school unable to read to the required standard. Beanstalk trains volunteers to give one-to-one support to children who have fallen behind with their reading, using the delights of storytelling to enthuse and enrich them.
It was reported by The Telegraph recently that 'sex has been all but eradicated from Hollywood scripts over the past 18 months'. Apparently sex scenes are being shunned in favour of dazzling special effects and tellingly, only two films containing sex and nudity made the box office top ten in the UK last year. So what is the reason for Hollywood's languishing libido?
We sat in the kitchen for our writerly discussion. He held a sheaf of A4 paper, covered in typescript while I was armed with my favourite pen and my kitchen reading glasses. I slid them onto my nose, squinting around the scratches and food smudges. Two mugs of tea and a plate of just baked flapjacks sat on the table between us.