Friday, 20 May 2016

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Angela Clarke

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

I'm pleased to give a very warm welcome to Angela Clarke today. Angela's debut novel, Follow Me,was published by Avon in December 2015. 

Follow Me is a social-media based crime thriller, and I loved every page of it, so much so that it made its way on to my Top Books of 2015 list.

Do check out my review of Follow Me on Random Things, here's a little taster;

"There are moments when my heart beat so fast that I actually felt quite sick, the author hooks you and reels you in and it is almost impossible to get this story out of your head."

My Life In Books ~ Angela Clarke

Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole   Cole's spunky motorcycle riding Princess Smartypants, who defies her parents' attempts at marrying her off by setting her suitors impossible tasks, grabbed my imagination and my heart as a kid. My mum rolls her eyes if I mention this book: I repeatedly took it out the library. I think she and dad must have read it almost every night for at least a year. Prince Vertigo and Prince Grovel don't make the grade, but Prince Swashbuckle manages to pass our heroine's tasks, so Princess Smartypants turns him into a frog so she can live happily ever after. The force was strong in proto-feminist mini me. I don't think I had a great grasp on the politics of feminism at that age, it was probably a good ten or fifteen years before I heard the f-word, but this book spoke to me.
I loved climbing trees, running with my coat on like a superhero cape, pretending to be one of the A Team, building forts and setting fire to things (don't ask), I recognised something appealing in Princess Smartypants' independent spirit which I wholeheartedly associated with. Nice one, Babette. 

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde  Technically a play, I discovered this book when my brother (who isn't prone to speaking much at all) said I might like it. I did. I thought it was hilarious, and for the first time I fully understood  just how funny words could be. I must have been about fourteen or fifteen, because I went on to select The Importance of Being Ernest for my free choice text for my GCSE English Lit exam. Obviously books had made me laugh before, but there is something about the catty cutting observational humour of Wilde that particularly tickles me. I'm a keen people watcher, and I love the way Wilde's observations are timeless. I recognise the snobbery, social manoeuvring, and backbiting in the play. Everything I've written myself, whether it's columns, plays, my memoir of working in the fashion industry, or my crime thrillers, feature observational humour. I will never, ever be even one shaped finger nail shaving as good as Wilde, but in my own way this is my gesture of continued respect to him. Plus, it's surprising just how many times life throws up an opportunity to pronounce in an exaggerated haughty manner: A handbag! Totally worth reading it or seeing it for that alone.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie  The unparalleled imagination of Christie, and the glamour of vintage travel combine in this ridiculously fabulous classic. This is the first murder mystery I read where I didn't work out who did it. (I've read plenty since: I'm not that smart!) That feeling of shock and surprise has stayed with me. It's a masterpiece. A few years ago I was lucky enough to travel on one of the Orient Express trains from Bangkok to Singapore. On the first night the train made an emergency stop (to avoid an animal) and the engine blew. As a result, we were stationary for a number of hours. I was so excited I told everyone in the bar there was going to be a murder! Unfortunately, it turned out there weren't many Christie fans on board, so I had to explain myself pretty fast. It's this book, and Christie generally, who made me want to write mysteries. The best thing ever is someone saying they didn't work out who the murderer was!

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice  At a low point in my life, my good friend Fleur sent me this book, describing it a as a hug in book form. She was right. It's a beautifully paced and written coming of age tale set in the 1950s, against the backdrop of post-war England and a vast and crumbling ancestral home. It's one of those books that when you discover others who've read it, you jump and squeal with delight with them. Even total strangers. Chicken soup in a book form: it picked me up when I really needed it. A perfect example of the power of books. 

Angela Clarke ~ May 2016

Angela's debut crime thriller Follow Me (Avon) reached number 42 on the paperback fiction chart and number 16 on the Kindle chart, and was Amazon's Rising Star Debut of the Month January 2016.

The second instalment in the Social Media Murder Series, Are You Awake? (Avon), is out November 2016. Her memoir Confessions of a Fashionista (Ebury) is an Amazon Fashion Chart bestseller. Her play, The Legacy, enjoyed it's first run at The Hope Theatre in June 2015.

In 2015 Angela was awarded the Young Stationer's Prize for achievement and promise in writing and publishing

Find out more about Angela and her writing at
Follow her on Twitter @TheAngelaClarke


1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post! I love that Eva Rice book so much.