No-one wants to lounge on a summer beach reading Wuthering Heights, do they? But, equally, who wants to sit by the fire at Christmas and read about folk who are running around in a bikini?

Atmosphere is where it’s at and there’s plenty of it in The Snow Angel; a dark, time-slip saga with a touch of the gothic and plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing right up until the – uplifting – end.

Given that her last book was called Winter Folly, is there a bit of a theme developing?

“I do tend to write my novels through the winter and deliver in the spring,” says Lulu.

“I suppose I have quite a romantic notion of the winter and think about fires and the coldness. But I do feel the cold really badly so I have to keep gloves and slippers to hand at all times and hot-water bottles and I must admit that I’ve sometimes got so cold writing that I’ve had to get into a bath and defrost.”

That doesn’t happen in The Snow Angel but, says Lulu, who moved to a tall, draughty Georgian property in Sherborne with her husband and children during August, elements of her own life crept into the novel.

“I didn’t know we were coming here when I was writing The Snow Angel,” she says.

“But I found it interesting that my main character, Emily, moved house and then I did. I think the feeling of transference quite often happens in my books, either I write it and something like it happens to me, or it happens and I incorporate elements of it.”

But one element of her own life was embarked on directly because of the novel, which features the interlinked story of two women; Emily, who loses everything because of her husband’s financial mismanagement and Cressida, a 1960s society girl whose love affair with an artist has far-reaching consequences.

“I was really interested in the idea of having a portrait painted so I got someone to paint me so I could experience what it was like,” she says.

“At first I thought that maybe I was taking my research a bit too far but I wanted to undergo the experience of being really looked at by someone else, the feeling of being really scrutinised.”

The end result is just being finished off; a ‘hyper-real’ study of Lulu with a strong ‘vintage’ feel.

“I wanted to capture myself now, to remind me what I looked like while I’m still young but it really travels straight into the book,” she says.

“It seemed to me that having a portrait painting situation was a very natural way for a couple to fall in love because of that very strange bond to the artist.”

It also provided her with a dramatic plot-twist.

Another real-life element was the character of the young boy taught by Cressida.

“It spoke to my father who was a young boy in an East End school whose parents took him out of that environment in which he wouldn’t have been able to succeed,” she says.

“We are shaped by our backgrounds, I think.”

Her background was in publishing, where she worked as an editor and still takes on the occasional editing project.

“I loved writing and even when I was an editor I couldn’t believe that someone was paying me to work on stories,” she says.

In moving to Sherborne where her husband, James, has started a new job as a master at one of the schools there, Lulu hopes her children will enjoy a background similar to hers, much of which was spent in rural Oxfordshire.

“I couldn’t believe our luck in coming to a place like this,” she says, of Sherborne.

“There is the community, the friendliness is really marked compared to London.”

No surprise, then, that the county will be making an appearance in her next book although the family is currently gearing up for Christmas in their new home.

“Everyone’s coming to us, that’s why we’re rushing to get radiators in, carpets down, boxes packed away and a spare room warm enough for visitors,” she says.

But one thing she won’t be doing much of over the holiday is reading any stories herself. “I only read non-fiction when I’m writing,” she says.

  • The Snow Angel by Lulu Taylor is published by Pan Macmillan