Wearing, it must be said, a gorgeous Fifties teadress, Cathy Cassidy entered her event at the Telegraph Bath Children's Literature Festival to the applause of an excited audience, which was mainly comprised of young girls (and a few sheepish-looking dads).
The author of the bestselling Chocolate Box Girls series, Cathy was there to promote the latest in the series: Summer's Dream. The novel follows the story of Summer Tanberry, one of the eponymous sisters, and the prettiest, most confident one. She's obsessed with dance, and passing the audition to a prestigious ballet school, but soon the pressure starts to tell...
"Inspiration comes from being a people watcher," says Cassidy. "The ideas are there for everybody - they're free. the daydreaming is what you do with those ideas."
The author is very pro daydreaming. She encourages her readers to "value your imagination - give yourself daydreaming time" and admits that at school, gazing and imagining were far more important to her than the core curriculum.
Cassidy's story-writing began in earnest when she was 12 or 13 and she began sending stories ("hundreds and hundreds") to teen mag Jackie in the hope of publication. Later on, after studying illustration at art college, Cassidy landed a job as office intern at that very magazine. She worked her way up to fiction editor, choosing the stories that went into the magazine. "That," she tells the audience, "is called irony."
Cassidy's new Chocolate Box book, she revealed, will have the delicious title of Cocoa Caramel, and will follow another one of the sisters, who is obsessed with horses. Cassidy will also publish a title for next year's World Book Day, following one of the male stars of her novels, Shay Fletcher.
Revealing that her own favourite authors are 1908-born American dramatist William Saroyan and Catcher in the Rye author J D Salinger, Cassidy had one more piece of advice for her audience:
"Authors are a little bit like magpies, they take things without asking - bright shiny things," she said. "You [all] are my inspiration...
"Never trust a magpie author."
Summer's Dream by Cathy Cassidy is published by Puffin.