An annual celebration of independent bookshops will see an amazing line-up of authors attending events across the country.

Ahead of of Independent Bookshop Week (15-22 June), leading children's author Cressida Cowell is coming to Chorleywood on Monday, June 10, for a special schools event.

We sat down with the author of the How To Train Your Dragon series to ask her about life as an author, her new book series, and working with Hollywood.

When did you first start writing stories?

I was about eight or nine. When I was a child my handwriting was terrible, my spelling was incomprehensible but I loved writing stories… Aged nine I entered a writing competition which, to my amazement, crowned me the winner! It gave me the confidence to think, ‘I could be a writer one day’.

What inspired you to write about dragons?

I spent a great deal of time as a child on a tiny, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland over the summer holidays. The island had no roads, houses or electricity. The house was lit by candle-light, and there was no telephone or television, so I spent a lot of time drawing and writing stories. In the evening, my father told us tales of the Vikings who invaded this island Archipelago twelve hundred years before, of the quarrelsome Tribes who fought and tricked each other, and of the legends of dragons who were supposed to live in the caves in the cliffs.

That was when I first started writing stories about dragons and Vikings.

Your How To Train Your Dragon book series has been adapted into a trilogy by Dreamworks. Did you have much say in the adaptations?

Yes, I was very involved in the process which was brilliant. I absolutely love the How to Train Your Dragon films, I am very proud of them, and I have a lovely relationship with the people who make them.

Is there a particular inspiration behind your new series, The Wizards of Once?

The Wizards of Once began with a map I drew about six or seven years ago, at the same time as I wrote the last books in the Hiccup series, I knew that if I was going to create a world as detailed and believable as How to Train Your Dragon I would have to spend plenty of time developing the landscape of that world and the characters.

It is also haunted by the places I played and walked and explored in, in particular, the South Downs of Sussex, where there was a magnificent iron age hill fort called the Trundle.

The Wizards of Once is set in this iron age of the British Isles and as I drew the map of the wildwoods, and the rebellious young Wizard-boy,Xar, and Wish the hopeful Warrior, and the wolves and theSnowcats, and Xar’s philosopher-Giant, Crusher, not to mention his hurly burly band of sprites and hairy fairies, I found myself falling in love with the world and its characters all over again, just as much as I had with Hiccup and Stoick and Camicazi and Berk.

As with your previous books, the new series features your own illustrations. Have you always enjoyed drawing?

I've always loved drawing and went to art school after university. I like my illustrations to provide emotions for the reader, whether that's making them laugh, or making the adventure even more exciting.

What advice would you give to parents to help get their children into reading?

Reading a book with a child, even an older child, is the most important thing you can do for improving literacy and communication skills: books read to a child in their parent’s voice will live with them forever. Sharing a book with your child, whatever their age, communicates how important books are. I read aloud with my children, even now they’re older, both picture books and older books, and we also listen to audio books in the car. I take them to libraries, bookshops and second-hand bookshops – I think it’s also vitally important for children to see their parents reading so they know that it’s a lifelong enjoyment.

Why are independent bookshops important to you?

The expertise and range of books in independent bookshops is invaluable. If you want to find a new book or discover a new author you can’t beat talking to an independent bookseller for advice!

Do you have a favourite bookshop?

So many! I’ve been lucky enough to work with the best of the best so I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite!

For more information on Independent Bookshop Week, visit