Friday 25 March 2016

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Tammy Cohen

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

Please join me in welcoming Tammy Cohen to Random Things today, Tammy is a huge favourite of mine, I've been reading her books for a long time now and have loved every single one of them. Her latest book; When She Was Bad is published by Black Swan (Transworld) on 21 April 2016. 

I am even more excited by When She Was Bad than I usually am about a new book by Tammy, as the main character is named after me!  I won the EBay auction that was held to raise money for Clic Sargent - a charity that helps young people and children with cancer, so there I am, in a book by one of my favourite authors.

You can read my reviews of all six of Tammy's previous novels by clicking on these links: 
The War of the Wives (August 2012)
The Broken (May 2014)
Dying For Christmas (November 2014)
First One Missing (July 2015)

My Life in Books ~ Tammy Cohen

Hello Anne - thanks so much for giving me the chance to waffle on about my favourite books. My family glaze over when I do it at home, so this is a real treat!
Mind you, I'm hoping the fact that I'm genetically programmed to forget the name of a book instantly as soon as I've read it won't prove too much of a problem.

My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards  As a little sister myself, although obviously an angelic one and not in the slightest little bit naughty, I absolutely loved the My Naughty Little Sister stories and would make my mum read them to us again and again. Though she's forever trying to be good, the little sister in the stories is stubborn and greedy and rarely does what she's told, and I think I was probably hoping my own sister would realise she'd actually got off pretty lightly! Years later I read the same books to my daughter who, with two older brothers was desperate for a sister of her own. When she then constructed a life-sized sister out of cardboard and insisted on carrying it everywhere with her, I decided the Naughty Little Sister books might have to be respectfully retired. 

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery  Who couldn't fall in love with the story of the fiery, red-haired orphan who won the grizzled hearts of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert even though she wasn't the boy they'd ordered? And what dreamy, romantic child from an all girl's school in the grey English suburbs could fail to be swept away by the dashing Gilbert Blythe and the idyllic freedom they all enjoyed in Prince Edward Island, Canada? 

In fact, I suspect my idea of a romantic hero might still be largely informed by Gilbert Blythe, which is a little bit sad as I'm now 52!

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell  This was the first book we studied at secondary school and I hold it fully to blame for the wanderlust that has afflicted me ever since. It tells the true story of how 10-year-old Gerald, together with his serene and largely ineffectual mother and his three headstrong older siblings plus various eccentric hangers on, moved to Corfu in the mid 1930s. There, Gerald was left to his own devices and ran wild, indulging in his passion for wildlife, against the backdrop of blue skies and Greek sunshine. When I dragged my own children to Southern Spain for four years I think I was in some way living out the fantasy born in my Upper Third English class.

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver  This book was like a punch to the gut when I first read it, when my own kids were young. So few books dare to tackle the question of maternal ambivalence, how you can love your child but grieve for the life you had before. Or dare to ask what happens when there's a personality clash between a mother and her child. In posing this question of whether Kevin was born evil or whether his mother's attitude towards him made him that way, Shriver gets to the very heart of every parent's worst fear - that we'll fail our children, and that our failure will end up destroying their lives. Oh, and We Need To Talk About Kevin also disproved once and for all the notion that great books require sympathetic characters.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty  When I read this book I'd already written three dark, contemporary women's fiction books and I knew I wanted to try something different but didn't know what. I loved crime fiction and psychological thrillers but didn't see how I could go down that route and still explore the themes I loved to write about - families and relationships in crisis. Apple Tree Yard showed me that it's possible to write a page-turning thriller that also gets to the very heart of human relationships. That opened up a whole new avenue of writing for me, and I've just published my fourth psychological thriller.

When She Was Bad, featuring a certain Anne Cater in the lead role, is published by Transworld on 21 April 2016

Tammy Cohen - March 2016

Tammy Cohen (who previously wrote under her formal name Tamar Cohen) has written several acclaimed novels about family fall out.

She lives in London with her partner and three (nearly) grown children, plus one badly behaved dog.

Follow her on Twitter @MsTamarCohen


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