The red carpet, the paparazzi, the millions of autograph hunters, the stars, the glitter, the glamour - that was great fun, you don't get that every day."

Writer Philip Pullman is still buzzing from the excitement of attending the premiere of The Golden Compass, the £90m film adaptation of Northern Lights, the first book in his award-winning fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials.

Twenty-four hours after rubbing shoulders with film stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, the author is back at his country retreat outside Oxford, talking exclusively to The Guide section of the Oxford Mail We sit by the fireside in Mr Pullman's large, book-lined study, next to the rocking horse he made for his grandchildren. Attached to a wooden beam above is a model spyglass sent by a fan.

The 61-year-old "likes the film very much", and believes that everyone involved, from director Chris Weitz down, has done a "wonderful job".

It must have been tempting for the former teacher to throw himself into the filming process but he says he wanted to remain at "arms-length". I have other books to write, other things to do, and I cannot afford to get sucked into this great maelstrom of film-making where you do not belong anyway as a novelist.

"I write books in silence and solitude - that is what I want to do. It's very nice occasionally to go on a film set and meet the stars and go to the premiere but that's not the world I live in.

"I watched what was happening with great interest and if they asked me my advice I was happy to give it, but that was the extent of it."

Kidman and Craig were such experienced actors that they did not require any advice from Pullman about their roles as Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel, but 13-year-old Dakota Blue Richards did ask for pointers on how to play Lyra.

The writer describes the young actress as "a revelation who dominates the film and pulls it all together in the most extraordinary way".

At the auditions, it was "quite obvious" to Pullman and the film-makers, who shot some scenes in Oxford, that "Dakota was Lyra, no question, and so she has proved to be".

The Exeter College graduate was so convinced that Australian actress Nicole Kidman should play Mrs Coulter that he wrote her a letter urging her to take the role.

"Fortunately I seem to have been eloquent enough to convince her," he laughs, before paying tribute to her on-screen skills.

"Many actresses can play glamorous, many of them can play bitter and twisted, many of them can play seductive, many of them can play dangerous.

"The most extraordinary thing about Nicole is that she can do them all at once in the same character. It's a very rare talent and a very extraordinary thing to watch. She can raise an eyebrow and the temperature drops by 10 degrees."

The author is hopeful that films of the second and third instalments of the trilogy, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, will be bankrolled.

But the Catholic League of North America wants people to boycott the film, claiming the story is anti-Catholic. If they get their way, "They will be doing exactly what I describe the religious authorities doing in the book: shutting down debate, shutting down expression", he explains.

The film adaptation has provided Philip Pullman with a dilemma that some writers would envy. He wants the movie to do well, and has therefore agreed to do a certain number of interviews, but he does not enjoy fame because it distracts him from the day-to-day task of writing.

If the next two films get the green light, there is a danger that he could be distracted again, so he has vowed to talk to no-one until he has finished his latest Lyra story, The Book of Dust.

Fans of the books will be delighted to hear that the writer has already begun his latest novel - taking an older Lyra into a different adventure.

Unlike his predecessors CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, Pullman has been lucky enough to see his work make the leap to the big screen.

But his priority over the next two years will not be stepping further into movieland, but writing about 1,000 words a day, "until the pages mount up steadily".