Are you happy? Donna-Marie Glashen, writer

I wanted to be a writer from the age of five. I'm not quite an only child, but there's 10 years between my sister and me. So I read everything when I was young, from Roald Dahl to Alice Walker and Maya Angelou. I wish I'd written down every book I went through.

Every year I'd go to my grandfather's farm in Jamaica for six weeks. Jamaica makes me happy. I get a sense of peace and quiet there. I wrote on my grandmother's veranda, mostly in the early mornings. By about six everyone would be up, with the cockerel making a noise. My grandmother would bring fresh mint tea out to the garden, which was full of mango, coconut and sweetcorn. They would have just had the hurricane season, so it was lush and green.

I had seven dogs lying around me while I was writing. There were no interruptions. I wrote with a pen and pad. Because I was up so early, I went to bed early. They don't have curtains, so I could see the lush green outside in the dark if I got up in the night to write. There was no pressure to write, so I wrote a lot more.

I need meditation. I reckon it's kind of like a detox. I like a certain pattern, a rhythm to life. If I fall out of the rhythm, it can be disastrous. The most important part of that pattern is writing. I'm not happy with myself when I'm not writing. Some people write for therapy or a need for fame. Some people do it because they've got a message, they've had a spiritual awakening, and others fit into the conspiracy theory bracket. I write because I need to. I can't identify myself as anything else. I can't imagine not being a writer.

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