People often ask me... I got started as a writer.

The answer is a long story and almost a book in itself. The most important influence was my grandfather. I often visited him in Cheltenham during my school holidays and he told me a lot about his youth and how life in England used to be. Nobody else had such a good memory and took so much care in their choice of words. He taught me how to truly tell a story. Later, I wrote stories myself and sent them to him. He always responded to them in very long letters, and we had a kind of author correspondence. That was the beginning. It shaped me and led me to become a professional writer.

...what I do when I cannot think of anything.

That depends. Sometimes I look for something to keep me busy in the house, like doing the dishes or mowing the lawn. When I focus on a simple chore, the ideas quietly work by themselves and later I can just return to my desk and start writing. If I cannot think of anything for a longer period of time, I intensively work on a new topic or do some research.