Today on Bookcase Showcase Annabel Pitcher has done a guest post as part of your blog tour to conincide with the release of her novel My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece in paperback.
A bookshelf... A bookshelf... That might be tricky. Having recently moved house, most of my books are still in boxes and I have yet to put up my bookshelves, as you can see.
My mother-in-law is coming for Christmas, so I must sort out the spare bedroom before December. Until then (*closes door and turns back on all the mess*).
However, I do have something I can show you, and that is the pile of books on my bedroom windowsill. For whatever reason, these books have been sought out over the past few weeks. I have risked death-by-dust-and-mess by clambering over the paraphernalia in the spare bedroom and squeezing a hand into a crammed plastic box in search of these very tomes. You can surmise, therefore, that these books are the ones that are most important to me, at the moment at least. And here they are:
First up we have The Velveteen Rabbit, revisited recently for its gorgeousness. Next there are the scripts of The Office and Extras, which I am using at the moment to work out how to structure a programme/play/film as this is an area of writing that I’m interested in. That’s also why Robert McKee’s Story is on there – quite simply the best book I’ve read on creating a screenplay and a gift from one of my best friends. To try and work out how to adapt stories into scripts, I’ve been reading a collection called What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and thinking about how I’d turn these short stories into plays, which is why the Raymond Carver is on the shelf.
Embarrassingly, my own novel is on the windowsill too, but only because I need it to hand for festivals, visits or literary lunches, like the one I’ve just done at The Galpharm stadium with Joanne Harris. There are two teen novels (How I Live Now and Before I Die) and I dip into these regularly when I’m in the middle of my own books as great examples of fiction and first person narration. A study of these novels is a master class in writing for young adults, and I have learned a lot from analysing their structure, voice and characterisation. While we’re on the subject of children’s fiction, also of note on the shelf is Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows and The Amber Spyglass. I reread the last Harry Potter before the final film and I wanted to look at the love scene between Lyra and Will in the last book of the His Dark Materials series. Pullman writes so beautifully about first love, and this is important in Ketchup Clouds.
Other works of fiction include Revolutionary Road, The Accidental, The Go-Between, Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress, Love in the Time of Cholera and some classic Dickens and Bronte. All these would be in my top twenty books of all time, and I like to read bits of them every now and again. I find it hard to focus on a whole novel when I’m busy creating my own stories, but I’m a compulsive reader so need to dip in and out of my favourites in the evening or if I’m having a coffee break.
Non-fiction I find easier to digest when writing myself, so I’ve recently enjoyed Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, a fascinating book about one man’s life as a writer and a runner, and the similarities between these two lonely pursuits. I also have to mention The Coast to Coast Guide, which I got out of the box quite recently when returning to Robin Hood’s Bay for the first time since completing the 192 mile hike across England a couple of years ago with my husband. Quite simply, it was the best experience of our lives and we spent a happy hour looking at the book and reliving the journey. That’s why Alfred Wainwright is up there too – a delightfully quirky hand-drawn guide to the Lakes, dedicated amusingly to, ‘Those unlovely twins, my right leg and my left leg, staunch supporters that have carried me for over half a century, endured much without complaint and never once let me down (but are nevertheless unsuitable subjects for illustration)’.
Finally, just in view is my favourite bag, Books Are Good, which I take on all my school visits because it has a picture of a ginger cat on the front much like Roger, and at the other end of the windowsill is an oak carving of a girl holding a book, which my parents bought for me when My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece was accepted by Orion – one of the happiest days of my life and a nice reminder of that first thrilling moment when I realised I was going to be a published author.