TO be honest," confides children's author Malorie Blackman. "I tried a couple of the Famous Five stories but I never got on with them. And I didn't like the Secret Seven either."
Enid Blyton shouldn't feel too offended though.
Because despite working her way through various myths and legends and Narnia books, the award-winning author of the best-selling Noughts and Crosses series admits by the age of 10 she preferred devouring traditionally 'adult' literature like Jane Eyre and Rebecca.
It was only as an adult herself that she rediscovered the joy of children's books, first as a reader and then, over the last 20 years, as a prolific purveyor of tales for youngsters and teenagers.
Malorie is set to visit Crosby this week to talk about her work, including her latest novel Boys Don't Cry, and re-launch a Blackman classic, A.N.T.I.D.O.T.E. She says: "Obviously it's lovely to get emails and letters, but this is a way of getting direct feedback and finding out what people are into."
When the 49-year-old was growing up there wasn't the tradition of authors visiting schools or the number of literary festivals there are today.
"It never even occurred to me I could be a published writer until I was well into my 20s," she adds.
In fact, the girl who wrote stories for her own amusement, and dreamed of becoming an English teacher, spent a decade as a computer programmer before a change of career beckoned.
Children's fiction appealed, she says, because of the freedom it appeared to enjoy.
She explains: "It seemed to me you could write about any kind of subject matter. …