The thing was basically human-shaped, dressed in a smart black uniform and top hat, but one look upon its face showed it wasn’t human at all. It didn’t seem to have skin, more a patch of midnight-blue sky stretched across a skull. In its grinning mouth were teeth more suited to an animal, pointed and razor sharp. More importantly, its eyes were pure starlight. Slowly, it extended one arm – it was going to turn Lirana’s own spell against her.

There was no time to think. Lirana, frantic, couldn’t think of a single powerful runic combination. Instead, symbols were jumbling up in her head and before she could stop herself her arms were outstretched and some kind of unknown spell was trembling through her arms. Once again she felt nauseous as she knew she couldn’t and shouldn’t be doing this. It was no longer Runic magic but unlimited sorcery – illegal to all except the Royal Sorcerers. Lirana didn’t even know any illegal magic.

With an explosion of pain, fire burst from her fingertips and blazed towards the figure before her.

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A fantasy novel I’d been working on for years, since I was about 13. As much as I loved it, it just never seemed to quite work out. Finally, in 2011, I cut out the parts that weren’t going anywhere and changed quite a lot. And on the 19th March 2011 I finally completed it.

My favourite character is Singe. I know all writers say they can’t pick favourites because it’s like trying to decide between children, but I can. Singe always wins, that’s just who he is! Also, he hasn’t ever given me any grief. He’s always been easy to write because I always know exactly what he would do or say, so much that the worst thing about finally finishing Check was not being able to write him anymore. Perhaps he needs a book of his own.