Friday, 29 April 2016

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Louise Beech

My Life In Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox
I've asked authors to share with us a list of the books that are important to them and have made a lasting impression on their life.

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Louise Beech to Random Things. Louise's debut novel How To Be Brave was published by Orenda Books on 17 September 2015. Her second book, The Mountain In My Shoe will be released in paperback in September this. To read my review of How To Be Brave, please click on the title of the book.

Here's a snippet from my review:

"With a hint of ghost story, mixed up with contemporary, up-to-the-minute narrative, and a good does of wartime history, How To Be Brave is a very special, unique and quite beautiful story, The stories are blended to perfection. the author masterfully and seamlessly knits them together, resulting in a hugely satisfying, intelligent and emotional creation."

My Life in Books ~ Louise Beech

Childhood Books    Growing up I adored the What Katy Did books. I so identified with this tall, clumsy, untidy girl who longed to be beautiful and loved. The adventures she had with her many siblings I tried to recreate with my own brother and sisters, forcing them to re-enact scenes with me. I actually named my daughter after her, that's how lasting the impression of brave Katy has been.

I had quite a love of 'older' books when I was small, because another favourite was Heidi. I read and fell in love with this while I was living away from my mum for a long period, and the story of Heidi's struggle with being away from her family helped me get through it. I remember to this day the vivid description of the Alps appearing to me on fire in the morning sun, and it taught me how important it is to 'put the reader there.'

Teenage Books   My reads were occasionally 'trashier' when I reached my teens, and definitely more contemporary. I loved all of Judy Blume's novels, my favourite being Deenie, in which a young girl copes with a disability that separates her from her friends.

Paul Zindel's A Star for the Latecomer is still a favourite, one I've since read as an adult. Zindel had a real talent for speaking directly to young adults in a way that not many writers can do - he was direct and never patronising. I wrote him a long, passionate fan letter, but never heard back.  In spite of that, it inspired a lifelong love of letter writing.

I also devoured Virginia Andrews' Flowers In The Attic at fourteen, reading it in the dark with a torch because I knew my grandma would find it a scandal! 

Adulthood Books   My early adult reads were horror novels, with Stephen King definitely a favourite. Misery I think is genius, and a great metaphor for how a writer struggles with the choice of creating what they want and what they feel readers might want. It taught me a lot.

Sidney Sheldon was a marvel at creating fast-paced, addictive novels that took you somewhere else. The Master of the Game and Rage of Angels kept me up many a night, and got me through some long night feeds of my young son. I wrote to Mr Sheldon and he actually responded, sending me a lovely letter in which he said writing would take me everywhere. He hasn't been wrong.

In more recent years I've preferred literary/contemporary fiction, with my favourites including The Book Thief, The World According to Garp, The Night Rainbow, Life of Pi and Birdsong. When I read John Irving's The World According to Garp it utterly cemented my desire to be a writer. Irving's extraordinary way with words made my heart soar.

Most recently I admired In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings, her third novel but one that I think cements her as one of our great current writers. It's the kind of beautifully written novel that you think about long after. Haunted is what I am by it.

I do secretly like a more shocking read at times. I loved Tampa by Alissa Nutting. It explored the relationship between a predatory female teacher and a fourteen year-old-boy and was exquisitely written, dark and filthy. Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam is another gorgeously written book that tells the story of a narcissistic middle-aged man who develops a relationship with a lost eleven-year-old girl. I think books that explore dark/difficult topics should be written, and should definitely be read. I certainly have a dark side, one that might come to light in future novels. So watch this space.

Louise Beech ~ April 2016

Louise Beech lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull ~ the UK's 2017 City of Culture ~ and loves her job as a Front Of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

She is also part of the Mum's Army on Lizzie and Carl's BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.

Find out more about Louise Beech and her writing at her website
Follow her on Twitter @LouiseWriter


1 comment:

  1. Some great choices by Louise, What Katy Did and Heidi were my childhood favourites too and Flowers in the Attic.