Yesterday I picked up a copy of Susan Hill’s ghost story The Small Hand, from a second-hand book stall. I fancied a light, quick read, and I love ghost stories. Her prose is so matter-of-fact, so lean, and yet from the outset I was immersed not only in the story but in the sense of place she created. The gardens of the White House were so well drawn, the observations so precise, I could smell the grass and feel the chill in the shadows of the yew hedges. It makes me want to rip up every word I’ve ever written and start again from scratch.