Probably not the best thing to admit as an author, but I actually keep very few books at home! Number one, I love library books and number two, I’m always passing them on in a ‘YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK’ fashion.
Looking at my bookcase, it should be pretty clear that I genuinely love YA fiction. Before I wrote it, I read it – and I think as an author you have to. You have to know what’s hot (and what’s not), you have to work out what has made a smash hit so successful. You can see various Hunger Games and Twilight entries on the shelves!
Some of them, of course are personal favourites. First up, on the middle shelf, you’ll see my Philip Pullman collection. Clockwork is my favourite book of all time – it’s truly ingenious, and only 90 pages long! His Dark Materials were also life changing for me, in that, along with Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses saga (top shelf), these were the books that made me want to write for young adults.
From where I am now, I think I’ll always want to write for teenagers (famous last words). I love the pace and edginess. It’s a genre that defies genre and is limitless as far as I’m concerned. There are YA books that are challenging readers in a way that ‘adult’ books don’t – see Cat Clarke’s Entangled or John Green’s Looking For Alaska for example.
On the bottom (and top) row, you’ll see the ‘new’ king of YA, Patrick Ness. His voice is so clear, and so right for his characters – there’s almost a teenage bashfulness to his writing that I love. The Chaos Walking trilogy broke my heart, made me laugh aloud on tubes, made me so angry I wanted to slap Todd around his face…superb! There’s a reason he wins all those awards, and he will hate me for saying all that I suspect.
Every bookshelf needs a ‘comfort food’ book, and mine are the Tales of the City books by Armistead Maupin. I got back to these when I get bouts of insomnia. They so remind me of when I left the north and fled to Brighton. These San Franciscan coming-of-adulthood yarns encapsulate that time in my life, and the characters feel like old friends.
Finally, if you look on all three shelves there’s a number of ghost and horror stories: Point Horrors, Dark Matter, Tales of Terror, Dead of Winter, Jekyll and Hyde, The Small Hand, Carrie, Something Wicked This Way Comes…no great surprise that I should end up writing horror stories, really. I love to be scared – I always have. Nothing is better than getting goosebumps when reading alone in bed at night…