Which writers or poets inspire you and why?
I have fond memories of reading Dickens through my school years until present day. He is a master storyteller and hones in on the minutiae of life and character so exactly that I feel compelled to keep reading just one more paragraph, one more page then one more chapter.
I also enjoy the short stories of Bernard MacLaverty and often read my favourites over and over again. His words stay with me and often make me question how I feel about issues raised.
Who would you invite to a literary dinner party?
My guests would be Agatha Christie because not only have I enjoyed reading her detective novels but her autobiography was such a fantastic social history that I’m sure she’d have lots of stories to share.
I’d invite Muriel Spark because of her dry wit and because she created Miss Jean Brodie, a character I’ve had a love-hate relationship with since I was a teenager.
Next would be William Shakespeare in the hope that he could fill in some of the biographical blanks in his life that puzzle us. (Also because he’s written a few plays and a bit of poetry).
Lastly I hope Sarah Waters would accept my invitation because I’ve loved all her books to date and so I could fawn over her a little. I think she would appreciate the invite and perhaps it might provide her with material for a book in the future
Where and when do you do most of your reading?
I always carry a book with me and as long as it’s not too noisy I read on the bus on my way to work. If I’m not working then I try to read for an hour or so without interruptions, usually cosied up on the couch –bliss! I also read before I fall asleep at night and it’s mostly light fiction or a magazine.
What are you reading currently?
I have two books on the go at the moment. I’m just about to finish reading, Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnson – it’s good fun with lots of warm, feisty women characters and I’ve started 1606 William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro – an imaginative delve into a specific time slot in Shakespeare’s life.
Are you a library lover, a bookshop bird or an online owl?
I worked in Public and College Libraries up until a few years ago and so I have a loyalty towards them. I am a member of my local authority library and think we are lucky to be able to borrow such a large range of books free of charge. However, I also think it’s important to support writers financially speaking and so I buy books when I can afford to and always ask for them as gifts. I like nothing more than finding a new independent bookshop to explore but I also appreciate the convenience and accessibility of stores like Waterstones.
Do you have a favourite writing or reading resource to recommend?
I often return to Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir by Mary Higgins Clark as to me it is an inspiring story of a writer’s resilience and perseverance. I also recommend On Writing by Stephen King, part autobiography and part how to, this book is full of great tips and advice for writers.