Thursday 9 March 2017

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Gillian McAllister @GillianMAuthor #MyLifeInBooks

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

I'm really delighted to welcome author Gillian McAllister to Random Things today. Her debut novel; Everything But The Truth is published today by Penguin.

I read and reviewed Everything But The Truth here on Random Things back in January and absolutely loved it.Here's a little taster from my review:

"Written with clarity and imagination, Everything But The Truth is a compelling, tension filled story, that is part psychological thriller, and part love story. Gillian McAllister is certainly an author to look out for."

Her blog has been featured in various publications including Company magazine. You can find it at

Follow her on Twitter @GillianMAuthor
Find her Author page on Facebook

My Life In Books ~ Gillian McAllister

This is the first book I remember reading by myself, and I was obsessed with the mysticism of the letters hidden inside. I loved the feeling that I was reading more than a book, and that I was actually peering into people's lives. To this day, I still like novels with primary sources in (emails, etc) and featured them in my own book, of course! 

I was in Sainsbury's, and I was seventeen, and all I had ever really read were children's books, Sweet Valley High and the Babysitter's Club. My older sister had moved on to grown-up fiction - she liked Patricia Cornwell - but I had tried a few adult books - classics - and found them turgid and hard to understand. And then I saw Sophie Kinsella's debut in Sainsbury's, read the first chapter while sitting on a bag of cat litter on the end promotion aisle while Mum shopped, and asked for the book for Christmas. Mum bought it, and I started and finished it on Christmas day, and I was hooked: I fell hard, that day, for women's fiction. 

Mike was really the second contemporary relationship-based fiction author that I read, and I fell hard, too, for his writing. My friend and I devoured them through sixth form, and beyond, swapping books in the corridors of our school and creating insane amounts of inside jokes around the characters in them (we still joke about 'toast sweat' to this day). Every single one of Mike's books has curled pages, from the steam of my teenage baths. I still have them all.

I re-read this novel most autumns. It has such scope; it is almost endless. It's about marriage and race and acceptance, and being with somebody who's utterly different to you, and trust and rivalry. I could go on and on. The reality is, though, that Zadie gave me the feeling and the sensation that every single one of her characters is utterly real. I feel - and it must be ten years since I read it - that Howard (who is given a bit part as a cat in Everything But The Truth) and Kiki (who was, too, but she was cut) are still out there, living out their lives. 

Do you ever have a completely life-changing moment when reading a novel? This happened to me with Apple Tree Yard. It is, for me - and will always be - the perfect novel. It made me realise that I could write about absolutely whatever I wanted to. A feminist take on the justice system that is part thriller and part relationship exploration - why not? It is perfection. Soon after I finished it, I started Everything But The Truth. 

Gillian McAllister ~ March 2017


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