Monday 19 December 2016

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Fiona Cummins @FionaAnnCummins #MyLifeInBooks

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 important to them and have made a lasting impression on their life.

Please join me in welcoming crime author Fiona Cummins to Random Things today.  I read and reviewed Fiona's debut novel, Rattle, here on Random Things earlier this month. Rattle is published by Pan Macmillan in January 2017, it is absolutely stunning, I was transfixed. I think it's going to be huge! .  Here's a little taster from my review:

"Fiona Cummins is an incredibly talented author, she takes her readers by the hand and pushes them forcefully, right into the middle of her story. We are allowed into the mind of not just the police who are investigating, but the children who are missing and their parents, and last, but really really not least, we are privy to the thoughts of the Bone Collector himself. This structuring of the novel works wonderfully well and adds layers to what is already an excellently thought out plot."
Follow Fiona on Twitter @FionaAnnCummins

My Life In Books ~ Fiona Cummins

What Katy Did - Susan Coolidge   I read this book as a youngster, probably when I was about nine.
My copy was a burgundy hardback. I can still feel its glossy surface and smell its new pages.
I remember being captivated by this story of a headstrong girl paralysed after an accident on a swing after disobeying her Aunt Izzie. In a slightly disturbing way, I wished that something similar would happen to me, perhaps because I, too, yearned to be 'good'.

The Butcher - Alina Reyes   This novel, a translation from the French bestseller, was a birthday gift from a boyfriend. It opened my eyes to the way words could be used in a richly provocative manner to suggest one thing but mean another.  As a teenager, this shocking mixture of eroticism and poetry was a gateway into a world I didn't know existed.

Equus – Peter Shaffer   Although a play, I decided to include this because it brings back so many memories of my time at university in Leicester.
Peter Shaffer's account of a psychiatrist's attempts to unravel 17-year-old Alan Strang's fascination with horses is extraordinarily compelling. It was inspired by the real case of a teenager who blinded six of them with a spike.   We rehearsed in the evenings in empty uni classrooms. I played Alan's girlfriend Jill. When we took it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we were thrilled to discover a critic from The Scotsman was in the audience, and stayed up until late for the first edition of the next day's newspaper to drop. Happy days!

The Magic Toyshop - AngelaCarter  What a profound impact this book had on me. I stumbled across it in a charity shop, drawn in by its cover of a naked woman reflected in a mirror, wearing a tiger mask, and it changed the way I read. 

In some ways, it was my first foray into literary fiction, but I was captivated by the sexual awakening of a young woman forced to live with an abusive patriarch.

The Collector - John Fowles   For a while, I was obsessed with the work of Fowles. Although he is better known - and fêted - for The French Lieutenant's Woman, for me, this startling début represents a writer at his creepiest best. 

I loved the dual perspectives - the insight into both captor and captive - and the bleak conclusion. It's a long time since I have read this book, and it's only just dawned on me quite what an influence it's had on my own writing.

Oranges Are Not The OnlyFruit - Jeanette Winterson   This story about a young girl brought up in an oppressive religious household who falls in love with Melanie, one of her 'converts', is a darkly comic coming-of-age story. It was an early – and revelatory - lesson in love and its differing forms, and how others might, wrongly, try to censor how one feels.

The Stand - Stephen King    I'm a devoted fan of Mr King. He is a genius at making his characters live and breathe on the page, and is blessed with an imagination that frequently tackles the opposing forces of darkness and humanity.
This sprawling novel is a masterclass in plot and character.
So many strands, so many stories, and yet the reader always knows from the start of each chapter which character is in the spotlight, and the motivations that propel their behaviour. Randall Flagg is one of the scariest creations in fiction.

Crooked House - AgathaChristie     This novel started my love affair with crime fiction.  Christie's plots are just so devilishly clever, so cunningly constructed.  When I first read Crooked House, I did not guess the identity of the murderer, and can still remember my sense of shock at the denouement.
I love this book so much that I bought a first edition of it with my some of my advance from Rattle.

Stick It Up Your Punter!: TheUncut Story of the Sun newspaper - Peter Chippindale, Chris Horrie    Not exactly literary fiction, but I couldn't leave this book out.
In my previous life as a showbiz journalist for the Daily Mirror, this warts-and-all account of life on the Sun was a fascinating peep through the lens at this hugely influential newspaper during a time in history when story – and the cash to pay for it - was king.

The Silence of the Lambs -Thomas Harris    And finally, one of favourite novels of all time.
Thomas Harris does not put a foot wrong in this modern classic about a jailed sociopath with a taste for human flesh who helps a female FBI agent track a killer.
His writing is stunning, and the relationship between Clarice Starling and the intellectually brilliant Dr Hannibal Lecter is one of the most enduring in fiction.
Lecter himself is unforgettable.

Fiona Cummins ~ December 2016


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