Thursday 16 November 2017

My Life In Books - talking to author Caroline England @CazEngland

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 delighted to welcome author Caroline England to Random Things today. Caroline's debut thriller, Beneath The Skin was published by Avon Books on 5 October 2017.

Three women. Three secrets.
Antonia is beautiful and happily married. Her life is perfect. So why does she hurt herself when nobody’s watching?
Sophie is witty, smart and married to the best-looking man in town. She likes a drink, but who doesn’t?
Olivia is pretending to be a happy wife and mother. But her secret could tear her family apart.
Their lies start small, they always do. But if they don’t watch out, the consequences will be deadly.

My Life In Books - Caroline England

The Rattle Bag edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. My copy is pretty battered from dipping in and out over the years. Just opening it now randomly, I’m on page 416. Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc is squashed between a Chinese poet and Emily Dickinson. Coincidentally I had to learn Tarantella for choral verse speaking at school. I’m still almost word perfect! My only complaint about this wonderful poetry collection is the absence of poems by the editors. They both happen to be my favourite poets!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I always intended to read this, but I didn’t get around to it until I watched the recent TV adaptation. I found the novel both enthralling and terrifying on so many levels. But as a person who was sent away to boarding school at eight, what struck me most is the empathy I felt for Offred.

The Camomile Lawn et al by Mary Wesley. I love the fact Mary Wesley wasn’t published until she was seventy. This makes me feel very young after all! I devoured all these books when they were published. I loved the quirky characters and surprisingly risqué storylines.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Do children still read it? They should! It was such a thrilling and romantic story when I was ten or eleven. Oh, the handsome and brooding Mr Rochester and his enduring love for plain Jane!

Case Histories et al By Kate Atkinson. It’s wonderful that a lauded literary writer like Kate Atkinson was happy to turn to crime! I aspire to her blend of contemporary literary and crime fiction in these Jackson Brodie novels. One of the reviews of Case Histories said it was a ‘wonderfully tricky book’. I like that! The television adaptations were great and the casting of Jason Isaacs as the world weary but attractive Jackson was inspired!

Switch Bitch by Roald Dahl. My copy was confiscated at school. There’s no doubt these dark twisty short stories have influenced my own.

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. The one on my bookcase is the annotated copy I studied for my English Lit O Level. I’ve never read it again, but whenever it catches my eye, it evokes such fond memories of my Upper VA classroom and the banter I had with my friends. Most of us had already seen the original film, so there was much discussion of whether one was in the Gabriel Oak or Sergeant Troy camp (or possibly Joseph Poorgrass - what a fabulous name!). A tough choice with such handsome actors, but Alan Bates had the edge. I recently watched the 2015 version. I was prepared to hate the usurper Gabriel, but he wasn’t too bad either!

The Rats et al by James Herbert. I devoured these horror stories as a teenager! They were creepy, very disturbing and stopped me from sleeping, but still I adored them!

Wolf Comes to Town by Denis Manton. This children’s picture book is about a wolf who dresses in human clothing to hoodwink his gullible victims. He steals guitars, saucepans, lamb chops, ice-cream and valuable art. Pet cats began to disappear, then dogs and ducks and finally an obnoxious little boy called Bernard. I must have read this book a million times to my daughters. They were thrilled that the wolf got away!

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes. Such raw, tender, visual and intriguing poems. Not only do they give insight to the Hughes-Plath relationship, each poem also stands on its own.

Born Yorkshire lass, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer and instigated her jottings when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. In addition to the publication of her short story collection, Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses by ACHUKAbooks, Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary publications and anthologies. She was shortlisted for the Impress Prize 2015, in the Pulp Idol 2016 finals and long listed for the UK Novel Writing Competition 2017.Her debut novel, Beneath the Skin, was published by Avon HarperCollins on 5 October 2017. Her second novel My Husband's Lies will be published by Avon HarperCollins on 3 May 2018.

Follow her on Twitter @CazEngland 

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