CHILREN’S author Dame Jacqueline Wilson was the highlight of the Swindon Festival of Literature over the weekend when hordes of people listened to her talk.

The popular writer from Bath, famous for novels The Story of Tracy Beaker, Dustbin Baby, Double Act and The Illustrated Mum, spent an hour in conversation with the audience at the Arts Centre inDevizes Road yesterday.

It is not the first time that Jacqueline has been to Swindon, but it was the first time the author had taken part in the festival.

The former children’s Laureate said: “Matt (Holland, festival organiser) has been asking me for about five years to come along to the Swindon Festival of Literature.

“He was very persistent, and I thought, since he had gone the extra mile like that, it would be a good idea to come.”

Jacqueline, who holds an OBE and a DBE, has had her books translated into more that 34 languages and sold more than 35 million copies in the UK alone. She has now written her 100th novel, and is currently working on numbers 101 and 102.

Proceeds from one of her most recent books, Paws and Whiskers, will go towards the Battersea Dogs and Cats home.

She said: “When I was small we only lived in this little flat and there wasn’t enough room for a cat or a dog, so I learned how to pretend cats and dogs.

“I think it is from this that I don’t find it too difficult to imagine dogs and cats in my books.”

She also gave advice to many of the budding authors in the audience, encouraging them to read as much as they could, and keep a diary to get into the habit of writing every day.

Following her talk, the predominantly female audience had a chance to ask Jacqueline a number of questions, including who her favourite character was, what her favourite book was, and how much research she did for her books.

Following the question and answer session, Jacqueline held back to allow her many fans a photo opportunity with her.