The author, 45, on being a kid in a sweet shop and falling in love with a drummer

I have an English identity and a French identity. When I’m in France I’m more outgoing. And the French part of me cooks, whereas the English part of me writes.

I’ve learned to associate home with people rather than geography. I get attached to places because of who, rather than what, is there.

I dream a lot, in colour and in sound and scent. Quite a few of my stories have come from dreams.

Synaesthesia is something I’ve been interested in for a long time. Colours have smells and tastes. A type of red smells of chocolate; certain greens taste of bergamot.

I don’t drink often because I don’t like the sensation of losing control. The last time I was remotely tipsy was watching Lost, when I thought Ben was about to die.

I’m very interested in the last series of Lost because clearly they’re making it up as they go along. That’s exactly how I work. It’s risky; I have no more idea of how my book’s going to finish than anyone else.

I sublimate different parts of my personality through my characters. Which is worrying, as some of them can be a bit nasty. I’m pleased the stuff on the page isn’t inside me any more.

I was the proverbial kid in a sweet shop. When I was born my parents were living with my grandparents, who had a corner shop in Barnsley. I had a cot underneath the till and my earliest memory is seeing the sun shining through the jars of boiled sweets.

I’m proudest when I achieve something I don’t do well. When I was a kid I was drafted into the 800m on sports day and I came last by a long way, but I didn’t quit – and at the finishing line everyone gave me a cheer.

At 16 I fell in love with a drummer who was starting a band and they didn’t have a bass player so I very quickly learnt to play bass. I’ve been playing ever since.

If you want to know what’s important to a culture, learn their language. I like collecting words that don’t have an equivalent in English: there’s one in Icelandic that means “man reduced to the level of a pig through drink” and another that translates as “man left to die a solitary death on a small island”.

blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris (£18.99, Doubleday) is published on 1 April © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds