Saturday 9 April 2016

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Louise Douglas

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 books that are special to them and have made a lasting impression on their life.

I'm thrilled to welcome one of my favourite authors to Random Things today.  I read Louise Douglas' first book The Love of My Life way back in 2008, before Random Things was born, her second book Missing You was published in 2010. I read it and adored it as much as The Love of my Life and I knew that I'd found an all-time favourite author.

Her last four novels are all reviewed here on Random Things, you can read my reviews by clicking on the titles ....  The Secrets Between Us (2011), In Her Shadow (2012), Your Beautiful Lies (2014), and her latest The Secret by the Lake (2015).

My Life In Books ~ Louise Douglas

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell   This is the first book that I remember completely adoring. It wasn't the version shown here but a children's picture book that I was given one Christmas and I used to tell myself the story by looking at the pictures long before I could properly read the words. I loved Black Beauty with all my heart and never tired of the story even though I cried every single time I reached the part about poor Ginger.  It was a children's picture book with few words, but it taught me the power of storytelling.

Jill Has Two Ponies by Ruby Ferguson   There is a bit of a horsey theme developing here - it was hard to choose between this and My Friend Flicka but I went for this because I was mad for the Jill books. Most of all, I loved the ponies. I used to fantasise about finding a stray pony and keeping him hidden in some secret paddock. In the meantime, I practiced horsemanship skills by jumping over imaginary showjumping obstacles on an imaginary pony. I also had a collection of little plastic ponies that were stabled in a shoebox and which I tended with great care.

Lace by Shirley Conran   This was one of those books we all read at school, avidly, hungrily, mad about the story. This was about the same time our English teacher was trying to make us read Hardy and Shakespeare. I'm afraid there was no contest ......

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte  I can't remember how old I was when I first read this book, but I fell in love with it completely and it's undoubtedly responsible for my love of the Gothic in literature. I have never been able to enjoy Jane Austen in the way I enjoy the Brontes or du Maurier, or books such as Frankenstein or The Moonstone or The Turn of the Screw. Wuthering Heights is truly horrifying in parts but it is also beautifully poetic, lyrical and romantic. I adore this book and turn to it when I need an escape from real life.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson  I read this book which is tender, moving, funny and macabre, after my first son was born. I loved that child so much I was afraid of the depth of the emotion but I was also lonely and exhausted and desperately afraid of not coping and this odd story of love and not coping and loneliness helped! I adore this book and its quirky characters. I've recommended it to lots of people who haven't liked it so was thrilled to see it also on Claire Fuller's 'My Life in Books' list.

The Girls from See Saw Lane by Sandy Taylor   Sandy used to live over the road from me in Nailsea, a town in North Somerset. Our children grew up together. We used to travel to work together and we both shared a dream of writing. We laughed, and continue to laugh, at everything. And the dream came true for both of us.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark   At about the time I was trying to write my first book I read a great many books and this was one that stood out for me. The quality of writing, the clever way the story is constructed, the way Murial Spark plays with the reader and the characters is just fantastic. A masterclass in novel writing and a lesson that you don't have to have a likeable lead character.

A Spring Affair by Milly Johnson   When I was first published I didn't know anybody in the publishing world. The first 'do'  I went to, I spent almost the whole time hiding in the ladies clutching a glass of Prosecco and wishing I hadn't gone. Milly Johnson was the first author to reach out the hand of support and friendship for which I will always love her. Since then I've met some of the best people, real friends, authors, bloggers like Anne, publishers, editors and book lovers. I feel lucky and privileged and grateful for each and every one of them.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald   It's SO HARD to pick out just a few books. I read this one a couple of years ago and it blew me away. I love writing about the countryside and wildlife and so does Helen Macdonald.  This book is also an exquisite portrait of grief and loneliness and much more besides.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee  I had to include this because it is my favourite book ever.

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings  And this one because it's one of the last books I've read and because it's fabulous and so is Amanda.

Many thanks to Anne for the invitation to contribute to 'My Life in Books' - it was a lot of fun and very hard to choose.

Louise Walters - April 2016 

Louise Douglas is an author. 
She has had six books published and is working on the seventh. 
She lives with her partner Kevin in Somerset and has three beautiful sons.
She works full time for a large European aircraft manufacturing company in Bristol.
When she's not writing, she loves walking in the Mendips with dogs, Lil and Lola.

Talk to her on Twitter @LouiseDouglas3


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