In an effort to stay on top of the whole blogging thing and not alienate the people around me by causing them to be the centre of all things in this space, I move onto the books!
I mean, the books — the one’s that made a difference.
The one’s that made us who we think we are — everyone has them, even if you have to think hard about it.
There is someone not too far from me who says he doesn’t read books thanks to a long summer spent in the company of Tom Sawyer. Either way, you have to say, it’s a book that’s had an effect!
The books I would chose to talk about are those that have stayed with me all through life. They are the ones you’ve turned to when you’re waiting in line or when you’re mending a broken heart. They’re not all great literary gems perhaps, but they contribute to your taste somewhat, I think. Certainly, they mark you out when you discuss them with others, in terms of what you read and what you take from them — and no, I’m not just talking about how to put arsenic to very many uses thanks to Agatha Christie.
For me, the reading journey started as it did for so many others, with Enid Blyton. I started off with Secret Sevens, they epitomized all that childhood was. They were adventure, friendship, loyalty and of course hot chocolate, hot crossed buns and long wet wintry days spent inside with a great excuse to curl up in a corner. Then, BBC televised the Famous Five — suddenly there was mystery, and Julian, and big old houses and most important Hairbands a la Anne.
A girl can only keep reading Enid for so long though, and eventually, I was allowed to graduate to Hercule Poirot and then Miss Marple. I devoured them, of course, along with a healthy dose of Sherlock Holmes and the James Herriot books. In my earlier years I wanted to be a farmer, then…
I discovered Ivanhoe and with adventure I finally learned what it was to be a hero and perhaps that our greatest weakness in life is often our greatest strength. Ivanhoe was a real turning point for me and with it I was led down a very different path in reading terms which continues to punctuate my otherwise commercial fiction tastes, but more of that another day.
John Grisham burst onto the scene in my twenties and for a while I read each new release, but then I discovered the stand alone books by Peter James. Each one different from the last, each staying with you for far longer than you managed to draw them out. James although he is very British, heralded the beginning of a love affair with Scottish crime novels, a love affair that continues to this day — there are just so many good writers coming out of there.
Like everyone else, I began to look further afield once Nordic noir became popular and of course I loved it too, but being from the furthest, wettest and coldest (probably) part of Ireland the love affair was not meant to last, I still dip in and out, but for me Fred Vargas, with those wonderful French detective novels reigns supreme.
Over the last few years I’ve begun to settle into something of a reading pattern. When I have time, there’s no-one like Susan Hill, I’ve loved every one of her Serrailler novels, but these are punctuated by Bryant and May and Tana French and of course, who doesn’t have a soft spot for Benjamin Black?
So, you ask, how on earth, with a reading history like this did I manage to churn out a novel that sits squarely in the genre of Women’s Fiction?
That my friends is a story for another day…