It’s been a while since I’ve really had anything to post, as I’ve been getting my head down and editing (and editing and editing!). I feel like I’ve finally hit the home stretch, and hope to be done by the end of the year, with a view to publish in January. It’s a bit longer than intended, but I’d rather not burn myself out with the work I do – it would only show through in the final product which is the last thing I want!
Fitting in work, roller derby, family life and a social life around writing can be tough, but I always try and make time for reading each day, as well as all the other stuff. I aim for an hour, but don’t always make that! Reading LOTS is one of the most important pieces of advice for writers. There are so many benefits, such as improving your language and imagination, as well as relaxing a buzzing mind at the end of the day.
I wanted to write about some of my favourite books and how they have inspired me as a writer. I seem to lean towards tragic heroines who have affairs and go mad, though that’s certainly not intentional! It’s more the way their emotions are captured that has influenced my own writing style.
I tend to swing between my what my ‘favourite book of all time’ is, so I’ll start with my top five:
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
I read this book every so often and it never seems to get old. What I can’t get over is how ahead of its time it is and how Emily Bronte imagined it all wandering around on the moors of Yorkshire back in the 1800’s. I adore the raw emotion of Wuthering Heights, and the fact that it’s not really a love story, but a tale of madness and obsession. It’s haunting, spooky and a true classic.
Cider With Rosie – Laurie Lee
Cider With Rosie was my Grandma Olive’s favourite book, and this has probably had a slight influence on why I like it so much. The book has an innocence to it that reminds me of being younger. There is a wonderful nostalgia the whole way through the book, and I can’t get enough of the way Laurie Lee’s countryside village has been written. The scenery, seasons, characters and all of his memories build up such a safe and comforting visual picture in my head. I have always loved books like this, as they provide such an escape. I try to include descriptions of all the senses in the way I write to really try and engage the reader and take them away from wherever they are.
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
On The Road is a contemporary classic for a very good reason. I’m a huge fan of travelling and experiencing anything that’s beautiful, breathtaking and memorable. A part of me has always wished I could emulate the way Dean and Sal just head on out without worrying about where they’re going and when they’re coming back. I love how fearless these characters can be. Kerouac has an amazing writing style (though I have to admit, I have really struggled to get through some of his later stuff). He writes as he feels, and the book has such an energy and a flow that captures what I love about my own travels.
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary is a bit of traumatic, arduous book at times, as the main character becomes so weighed down and tragic. It’s beautifully written though, and similar to Wuthering Heights in its emotion. I found it difficult to get into at first, but once it really hit its stride I couldn’t put it down. Finding beauty in fragility and tragedy is something I love in a novel. The characters are so flawed. I loved Emma’s quirks and senseless annoyances – tiny things that build up and lead her to create an idealistic daydream world that she just can’t translate to real life. I like books with imperfect characters who make bad choices!
Peter Pan – JM Barrie
This is the ultimate children’s book for me. I love its innocence, but also the tragedy of the boy who never grows up. JM Barrie has such an imagination and I adore the way he captures the magic of childhood. It’s not particularly one that has influenced my writing, but it’s a story that has always stuck with me and reminds me to keep a hold of my ‘inner child’.