I’ve been a keen reader since I was very young. The weekly trip to the library with my Grandma was something I cherished. It felt like a very grown up thing to do – even in the children’s section! I proudly had my library cards and took time to choose my books.
I was a huge fan of the Enid Blyton Secret Seven books and read them all. I read some of her others but none of them quite sparked my imagination like the Secret Seven series. Because of them I turned our shed into a Secret Headquarters which required a password if you wanted to enter.
My favourite book as a child was The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. I’m probably one of the few people who thinks the book is better than the films – and I love Disney!
I remember one of my primary school teachers reading The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler to us and can still visualise the reaction of the class when she reached the big twist. That teacher was incredibly supportive of my love of writing and typed out one of my stories and stuck it on the wall – it was a very proud day.
As a teen I was very keen on Agatha Christie and again the library was my friend. I much preferred the Miss Marple stories to Hercule Poirot. I think I found Miss Marple more straightforward and the way Poirot referred to himself in the third person irked me even then.
At secondary school my English Teacher, Mr Bundy, encouraged me to widen my reading choices and introduced me to The Hobbit which I loved and the Lord of The Rings which I loathed. He had a huge amount of patience as I would happily fill an exercise book if the homework was to write a story and that dedicated man would mark it all. When I was published I wrote to him, somewhat belatedly, and thanked him for going above and beyond.
I had a bit of a stray into poetry in my twenties but got back into reading novels thanks to Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s still a comfort read even now. She was such a relatable character and hilarious. That book seemed to spawn so many romantic comedies and that was perfect for me. My favourite authors in the genre are Zoe Barnes and Jill Mansell – I have read all of their books. Zoe Barnes had a way of bringing animal characters to life which is something I try to emulate in my stories. And Jill creates wonderfully interwoven characters that hold your interest to the very last page.
I now have far too many romcom authors who I adore making my TBR pile teeter. A couple of other favourites are Sophie Kinsella and Katie Fforde. You know what you are getting with those authors – it’s like a hug in book form.
JK Rowling was on her third book when I came to the party. A friend of mine recommended them and whilst I was sceptical, as they were ‘children’s’ books I thought I’d give the first one a go. I was instantly hooked. I became an avid Harry Potter fan and then eagerly awaited the release of each of the others in the series. For me the third book – The Prisoner of Azkaban, was the best. After that I still enjoyed the story but felt it could have benefitted from a bit more pruning from an editorial perspective as the books grew and grew.
The Life of Pi was a special book for me. Vividly described and captivating. More recent favourites have been Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Rosie Project. Both have similarities in that the main character is a fish out of water in everyday life but otherwise are very different stories.
I joined a book club a few years ago which quickly became known as the Boozy Book Club – for very obvious reasons. As well as enjoying a regular drink with friends it also opened me up to a number of genres I wouldn’t have naturally chosen and has introduced me to new authors. Some of my favourites have been I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh, The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman and Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris although the latter seriously stressed me out!
I’m very lucky to be asked to read wonderful books by author friends and always enjoy these too. I can often imagine their voice as I’m reading which is quite soothing. Books are just a brilliant escape from the daily stresses of life and there’s always a little flurry of excitement when I start a new one.