Spotted at Margot Kinberg’s fine blog – The Book Q & A. I found the questions very interesting and thought I’d give it a go. The following is not confined to crime fiction …
What are you reading right now?
A manuscript. It’s a thriller. Leisure reading is curtailed at the mo and the nearest I am getting to it is some children’s fiction. But that’s partly research too …
Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
A number of things are crying out to me and I hope to pick one up just for pleasure. It’s been a while …
What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
(1) A proper devouring of Reginald Hill’s oeuvre and (2) ditto for William Boyd. (3) More recently I simply have not found the time to pick up Gone Girl and I really want to know how it’s constructed to see what all the debate’s been about. (4) Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. (5) Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. I beg a (6) here too – Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. It’s now been so long with one or two of these that I’m not sure I still want to read them.
What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
Private Eye. Unmissable, especially for the truthful/sarcastic/gossipy literary review pages.
What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
If something is really bad I won’t read it to the end. I have found myself presented with a few real howlers on times and there are certainly a few vying for this category although it has to be just the one …
I can still remember being really annoyed with one book at the start of the noughties. I thought it was a waste of money as nothing really happened for pages and pages. The cover synopsis was more thrilling. That book was Sasso by James Sturz.
What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?
Shutter Island as I felt the ending cheated the reader. When I read it I think I’d have slapped the author if he’d been in the room with me. (And thanks for the ‘seemed really popular’ description as this was really a marmite book. Quite a few agreed with me, while some loved it.)
What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
John Lawton’s Black Out. As the Lawton launch pad.
What are your three favourite poems?
‘Stop All the Clocks’ by W H Auden; ‘i like my body when it is with your body’ by E E Cummings; ‘Leisure’ by W H Davies.
Where do you usually get your books?
Publisher promotional copies; online booksellers, mainly Amazon Marketplace and sometimes Amazon itself; I use the library – the first thing I did on moving recently was to join my new library; charity and second hand shops.
Where do you usually read your books?
In/on bed. When travelling on a train (if I can discipline myself and not natter to a neighbouring passenger which I am prone to do).
When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
Oh yes. Severe competition with a fellow bibliophile friend to read through everything available as soon as …
What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
I don’t remember. Due to painkiller medication I find it impossible to stay awake half the night however good the book is. For the same reason my memory is sometimes more than a little bit crap.
Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?
Not that I can recall. But who knows what an imaginative child might have done?
Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Oh yes. Take a look at the Peter Ho Davies hardback from Sceptre on your right here. Beautiful. The picture does not show the texture which is also beautiful.
What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Aesop’s Fables for the tales and because I had a really gorgeous and solid illustrated copy. For some strange reason the story of The Princess and The Pea stays with me. The origins of my inner pedant?
What book changed your life?
Simone De Beauvoir’s When Things of the Spirit Come First. It spoke to me at the time: woman can be independent.
What is your favourite passage from a book?
Recently I was stunned by the opening of Derek B Miller’s Norwegian by Night. We get right into the head and situation of Sheldon Horowitz in so few words. Boom; it’s a beauty. And he is so like the Grumpy Cat of male protagonists – you simply adore him.
Who are your top five favourite authors?
This has changed over the years due to the level of activity from the authors in my pot, but right now within my top five I’d have: John Lawton; Robert Wilson; Minette Walters; Mary Wesley; Ursula Bentley.
What book has no one heard about but should read?
I am answering this one not with a specific book but with the name of an author because his marketing has not been too good in the UK and you may well have missed him. If you like thrillers check out Tom Bale. And to keep it easy, just click here.
What three books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?
Please allow me some flexibility: anything by John Lawton; Danny Miller’s debut Kiss Me Quick; Ryan David Jahn’s debut Acts of Violence; Robert Wilson’s Falcon quartet. So that’s four ending with a quartet. I can still count.
What are your favourite books by a first-time author?
Ryan David Jahn’s Acts of Violence and Danny Miller’s debut Kiss Me Quick are first-time published in the UK – from my time as a judge for the CWA’s John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. I thought both were superb, for different reasons but they both drew me in and didn’t let go. I’d also add to that list Derek B Miller’s Norwegian by Night (clever and seamless storytelling) and Thomas Mogford’s Sign of the Cross (classic crime style given new life). For first time in fiction I have to add Lawton’s Black Out. Finally, Mari Strachan’s The Earth Hums in B Flat touches Welsh parts other novels cannot reach.
What is your favourite classic book?
I don’t have one.
Other Notable Mentions?
Some rising stars in crime: Elizabeth Haynes; Jane Casey; Erin Kelly; Hanna Jameson; Paula Daly. Great to see Margaret Murphy back as one half of A D Garrett. Broadening out – and I don’t mean her waistline – Zoë Sharp. You heard it here first. Keep an eye on her website for future releases coming soon.