She is quick to say he was a wonderful father.
She was eight. I think that good writers have to be very self absorbed, but my varied life experiences are all so enriching. She also enjoys cooking, spinning wool and knitting, painting, playing the piano and any activity to do with the sea.
But she soon found solace elsewhere. He read King Solomon's Mines, he did all the voices. In fact, she learned a discipline without which she doesn't think she would have become a writer.
A woman rushed out with her kids and said 'Who do you think this is? Although she is Catholic, her retreats are largely non-denominational. The tractor is sold to one interesting character after the other, until finally it arrives full circle.
With her husband Terry Coles, she now lives in Featherson, Wairarapa, New Zealand, in a little cottage well suited to a couple of senior citizens; but they still have a house in the Marlborough Sounds where they lived for many years.
However the oysters are collected from the beach and the wine, more often than not, is Marlborough produced. She couldn't split the incredibly close children up and so let Ted take them all.
But it hasn't always been that way. Reading, she says, was a great source of humiliation.