Thursday 5 May 2016

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Dorothy Koomson

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 impact on their life.

Please say hello to and give a huge welcome to Dorothy Koomson, 
I'm really thrilled that Dorothy has visited Random Things today, I've been a fan of her writing for a long time.

Her latest novel, When I Was Invisible is published today in hardback by Century. 
Look out for my review, coming soon to the blog.

My Life In Books ~ Dorothy Koomson

Reading has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. My older brother used to read to me a lot and my mum taught me to read and write when I was in nursery. From about the age of ten, I used to stop off at the library on my way home from school and read stories. I basked in the peace and tranquillity of the library as I entered the diverse and fantastical worlds you could find in the pages of a book. For me, reading is the most personal, enriching way to experience the world without ever leaving your seat. These are some of the books that have had a profound influence upon me.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee  A beautiful, classic tale about injustice that is cleverly woven with a coming-of-age story. 
It is gently told and is always a joy to read, even though I'm left with a lump in my throat.

Waiting To Exhale by Terry McMillan   I adore this book about four friends who are at different stages in their lives. It's told from their alternative perspectives so you really get to know the women.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel  Pi, a young Indian boy tells the tale of sailing across the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a 450lb Bengal Tiger. I love how this story deals with religion, spirituality and survival against the odds.

You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought by John-Roger and Peter McWilliams  This book encourages laughter and doing things that you find uplifting instead of trying to constantly engage in 'positive thinking'. I try to read this if I start feeling negative about things.

Running Wild by JG Ballard  This novella about the murder of a group of wealthy parents began my love affair with JG Ballard's writing. Ballard is an expert at twist-in-the-tail stories, and this is one of his best.

The Family by Buchi Emecheta  When a Jamaican family immigrate to the UK, their lives are changed forever. Dealing brilliantly with very serious subjects - it inspired me to be brave and tackle about difficult themes in my writing.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams  This is clever, funny, and has one of my favourite lines: 'So long, and thanks for all the fish'. (The dolphins, who have been trying to warn the humans of Earth's imminent destruction, say it before they leave the planet.)

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Stories of by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  Conan Doyle was very clever with how he constructed Holmes - he's one of the 'good' guys, but he is incredibly flawed and I loved that about him.

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl  My brother used to read this to me and my sister when we were younger, it holds a special place in my heart because of that.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo  I bought this recently after a couple of people mentioned they'd got it. I got rid of so many clothes and other stuff that weren't sparking joy in my life as a result. My life is far from completely orderly now, but things have a place and it is very quick to tidy up as a result. It's excellent.

The Garden Gang series by Jayne Fisher  This is the book that started me on the path to being a writer. Jayne Fisher began writing and illustrating her The Garden Gang stories - about a group of talking fruit and vegetables - in the late 1970s, when she was nine. I remember thinking that if someone my age could write books, then so could I. I wrote my first book, called There's A Thin Line Between Love And Hate, at 13. I wasn't published until I was in my thirties, but it all began there.

When I Was Invisible by Dorothy Koomson is published by Century on 5 May, price £12.99 hardback

Dorothy Koomson is the author of eleven novels including The Chocolate Run, Marshmallows For Breakfast, The Woman He Loved Before and The Flavours of Love

After school, Dorothy went to Trinity and All Saints College in Leeds where she studied Psychology and Public Media. After graduating she moved back to London to study for a Masters in Journalism at Goldsmith's university. While studying, Dorothy was long-listed for the Catherine Packenham award for young women journalists. After graduating Dorothy freelanced for various publications including The Independent on Sunday, New Woman, more! magazine and Just Seventeen. She also worked full-time on black weekly newspaper New Nation.

In 2001, Dorothy visited a lecturer friend back in Leeds and after a night out where her friend received an inordinate amount of male attention, it gave Dorothy the idea for a character that unintentionally inspires people to follow their hearts, be it in love or finding the perfect job. The Cupid Effect was published in 2003. The Chocolate Run followed in 2004. Still working as a journalist, Dorothy continued writing books in the evenings and in her spare time. In 2005 Dorothy decided to try her hand at living in Australia and found a job on Family Circle magazine in Sydney. Her third novel, My Best Friend's Girl was published in 2006 in the UK and sold 56,000 copies in its first few weeks. It was then selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Read of 2006, and went to No. 2 in the bestseller charts, eventually selling over half a million copies.

Passionate about the importance of reading and literary, Dorothy is a regular speaker in libraries and at festivals and supports the work of the National Literacy Trust, an independent charity that transforms lives through literacy

Dorothy lives in Brighton (well, Hove, actually)!

Find out lots more about Dorothy and her writing at
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @DorothyKoomson

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