Thanks for inviting me onto your blog, Kirsty. I feel very at home here as The Overflowing Library is a pretty accurate description of my house... There are piles of books everywhere, ready to topple over on the unsuspecting passerby. If we don’t build more bookshelves soon we’ll soon end up on one of those documentaries about people who have to tunnel their way out of their own house assisted by the Emergency Services.
Anyway, for the purposes of this piece I’m going to focus on the bookshelves that are my pride and joy. I had them built last year and they have lots of my favourite books on, as well as books I’ve read recently and books that are on my MUST READ THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY list. As you’ll see there’s a real range of books here: YA, adult, a few MGs, history, fantasy, fiction and non-fiction, poetry. I’m a big believer in having variety in what I read. I try to challenge myself and not just stick to the same comfortable things. It’s inspiring! At least that’s the idea...
Let’s start with the YA. A confession here: I found it really hard to read any YA while writing How Not To Disappear. I had to write it in a vacuum. It felt too easy to be influenced what I was reading, either consciously or subconsciously... which was frustrating as there were so many fantastic books coming out! So now I have the most amazing YA to look forward to:
There are a few of my all-time favourite classic YA books here - Melvin Burgess and Malorie Blackman stand out. I went on a creative writing course with them when I first started writing The Year of The Rat so I learned from the best! There’s also a little section devoted to books written by my fabulous classmates on the Bath Spa MA.
Next are the books that inspired How Not To Disappear. I did a lot of reading around How Not To Disappear - there was a lot of historical research needed as there are two storylines, one contemporary and one set in the late1950s. I loved this research and could happily have spent a year just reading and forgetting to write a book, but my editor wouldn’t let me. How unreasonable! I find photos really helpful in capturing the feel and detail of the time. I even got a book on home furnishings! I love this stuff. Immigration in the fifties is one aspect of the book and there was a brilliant book which looked at many different aspects of life for black immigrants told through first-person experiences. Totally invaluable and really fascinating stuff.
I love reading poetry and one of my new year’s resolutions is to start writing poetry again - haven’t done it since I was at school but always loved it. I also love the theatre and often buy the scripts of plays I go to see. I love this poetry collection from Liz Berry who writes in Black Country dialect. I went to see Ballyturk last year and as well as starring my imaginary husband Cillian Murphy it was a breathtaking play, written by Enda Walsh.
Here’s the adult section: a few books here that I read last year and lots more that I’m really looking forward to. I love Kate Atkinson and I’m reading A God in Ruins, the sequel to the brilliant Life After Life, at the moment:
And here are some biographies and non-fiction. I’m very excited about the biography of Mary Shelley and Mary Wollestencraft.
So there you have it, a small insight into my disorderly mind. If I had to pick a favourite book from all the books on these shelves? Well, it’s a tough one. This week it’s probably been this one, which accompanied the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A. He was one of my heroes and a real creative genius, totally inspiring:
And there’s this copy of A Song for Ella Grey: a beautiful book inside and out, with a lovely message from David Almond which makes me happy every time I read it - not that I’m showing off or anything. (Ok, yes I am.)
Now if you don’t mind, I think I’m going to make myself a cup of tea and choose one of these books to curl up with...