Friendless, insular and twitchy, I spent much of my late childhood writing stories, starting novels and turning out the occasional epic poem. Hunched over an old typewriter my dad had salvaged for me from work. It was mostly fantasy, quest stuff, lame old cobblers but it was the start of my journey. Then aged about 12 I was given a big box of books by our trendy next-door-neighbour. They were very grown-up books. Therein was The Rats by James Herbert. I read it in secret, terrified it would be confiscated by parents concerned for my innocence, in a wide-eyed, glorious wonder of discovery. I’d found something very important. It’s a book that’s very dear to my heart, a genuine classic, and I’d still not hesitate to recommend it. Some of the scenes burned themselves into my imagination, and the scene when the rats invade the school is probably the most vivid and life-changing piece of horror writing I have ever read. Knock the style if you like, but I was 12 and it rocked and I knew then, to a soundtrack of Cars and the thrill of a persistent anxiety-hardon, that this was what I wanted to write. In some way.