Stories don't come out of nowhere. This one came from my son Roland who said one day, “Why don't you write something for my age group?” He was eleven then, twelve by the time we'd finished the book. I read it to him chapter by draft chapter. His criticism was exact and wise. I thank him.

 I'm grateful to my 10- to 13-year-old “test” readers: Sam Bull, Natalya Wells, Felix Faber, Clare Liddicoat and Matilda Kay I sent them the first half of the book and a nervous questionnaire. They responded with intelligence (of course), but also with enthusiasm - which was a gift. Matilda even drew pictures.

 I thank my sister Jackie. I'm thirteen years older than she is and I used to tell her stories. Now she tells me stories. She told me about an art project she was doing with the residents of St Edberg's, Bicester. I was privileged to listen to some of the Elders. I acknowledge their wisdoms. I also thank my Great Aunt Dorothy, aged 91. With her great gentleness she told me about memory.

 I'm grateful to Dan Yashinsky, whose wonderful book, the Story teller at Fault (Ragweed) led me to the Silent Prince and the Firebird stories. Yashinsky retells the stories from the Cree and the Iroquois and I retell them from him. Thus go stories.
I thank my agent, Clare Conville, for her faith, her energy and her openness. They mean a lot to me.

 And I thank the chance that led me, one day, to a huge, derelict house in downtown Hove and the powerful feeling that I just had to go in…