Sunday 17 August 2014

Five Books Which Influenced Me

I very nearly called this post "Five Books Which Changed My Life" but, while I'm never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story, that did seem a little too hyperbole-y, even for me. But hey, I'm a writer, we're prone to telling fibs making stuff up exaggerating slightly. So, while these books didn't change my life, they certainly influenced me as a writer. Castle of Adventure by Enid Blyton
If you've read any of my books, maybe you've guessed this one already. I blame my mother. She had a huge collection of Enid Blyton books as a child, which she lost when she moved house. As soon as my brothers and I arrived, she set about recreating that lost collection. The Castle of Adventure was one of my favourites and might have been the one I read first, as my copy had a scary ruined castle on the front - and you know how I feel about ruins ...

Tregaron's Daughter by Madeleine Brent
My grandmother loved reading those gothic romantic suspense novels which were popular way back in the 1970s, so once I'd outgrown Enid Blyton I began raiding her shelves. Tregaron's Daughter is about Cadi, a fisherman's daughter, who only discovers she has aristocratic relatives when they whisk her off to Venice after his death. But are they as pleased to find her as they appear to be? This book has all the things I love in a book - family secrets, mysteries to solve and a dangerous hero - and it's set in Venice.

Polo by Jilly Cooper
I've already blogged about how I first discovered Jilly Cooper's early books, while on a rainy holiday to the Isle of Wight. Jilly wrote a series of romantic comedies with girls' names as the titles - Emily, Bella, Harriet, etc - before switching to writing these big, sexy blockbusters. My favourite Jilly Cooper book is actually The Rivals but Polo is a close second. I've never liked wishy-washy heroines and I love that the heroine of Polo (Perdita) is deliciously horrible at times. OK, most of the time. But that is her charm.

Tell No One by Harlan Coben
It was a friend who first got me hooked on Harlan Coben. I love reading mysteries but I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the way it was always so easy to guess what was coming next. Is this is a 'writer's thing'? My favourite books and movies are always the ones where I can't work out what is going on, or how it's all going to end, so I can just sit back and enjoy the ride. I've always tried not to do the obvious in my own books but Harlan Coben's work really made me stop and think about all those extra little evil twists I could add. This one is my favourite.

On Writing by Stephen King
I love Stephen King and I've read all his books, which have definitely inspired me to try and be a better writer. For me, On Writing is brilliant because in it he talks about his own life at the time when he wrote each of his books and he explains how he was inspired - just little snippets of detail that would trigger the creation of whole scenes. I always find this kind of information fascinating. Is it another 'writer's thing'? Or am I just nosy?

So there you have it, five books which influenced me as a writer - although I might not have realised it at the time. There are so many other wonderful books and authors which I love and, if you're feeling a little bit nosy too, you can pop over to my Pinterest board Most Favourite Books in the World Ever and check them out.

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