On a bright sunny day I drove across Dunstable Downs to the BBC Three Counties Radio station in Dunstable. As usual shortly after 1pm I joined Nick Coffer in the studio and we discussed the books I had chosen for today. I seldom have a them but occasionally one emerges and today it was definitely books set abroad. Of the novels, three were set in America, two of them historical and one between London and Brazil. I also recommended a couple of books that would make non fattening Mothers Day presents – The Collins Complete Book of British Birds and Dreamweaver, an adult colouring book by Olivia Whitworth. It is always enjoyable, nothing is more fun than talking about books!
You can hear the programme here . I start 78 minutes into the show.
So now the best part of my month is here – what to read next? I will have a look through my proofs and see what I have on Netgalley and probably check what the book groups are reading and go from there.
Last night I had the pleasure of interviewing author of psychological thriller, Forget Me Not, Luana Lewis. We met in Gerrards Cross in the church above Gerrards Cross Bookshop. We had 30 – 40 people, many of whom had read the book and many belonged to local book groups.
I started by asking whether Luana had felt the pressure of writing her second novel, a task many authors find rather difficult. It was a huge pressure, especially as she had a deadline to meet. With the first book, you can write it in your own time but the second has to be delivered to meet the publishing timetable.
Luana is a clinical psychologist who sees patients with problems as part of her day job. Many of them have fractured relationships and that was the starting point of this novel. What happens when the relationship between a mother and daughter is less than loving? How will it affect both in later life if indeed it will? The story of Forget Me Not is that of a mother and daughter who do not get on. The mother Rose, is a single parent, working as a neonatal nurse with long shifts. This has an effect on her daughter, Vivian, who is lying dead on the bathroom floor as the book opens. Rose, having been a less than perfect mother, has not been a very supportive grandmother but when he daughter is found dead she hopes to make up for that by looking after her granddaughter, Lexi. Vivian’s husband, Ben, is uncertain about that. All the characters become suspects as you read the book. It is suspenseful and compelling.
Luana told us that she was character driven and that the characters came to her fairly fully formed. She knew the end as she wrote but had not meticulously planned the plot as some authors do. “Writing is the fun part of my life and too much planning would make it more like work”
You can read all about Luana and her two novels by clicking here.
I am reading A God in Ruins which won the Costa novel prize this week. Wonderful. I will save the review for the next Nick Coffer programme.
Those of you who follow these things will know that the Costa first novel prize was awarded to The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley. We discussed this on the show a month or two back. My review is here.
Last night I went to the London Review Bookshop to see one of the literary greats. Edna O’Brien is surely one of the best writers around, certainly one of my favourites. Her new book, The Little Red Chairs, which those of you who follow these things will know I discussed with Nick Coffer on the last radio broadcast, is an amazing novel. Inspired by the moving pictures of the 11,541 (643 were child size) red chairs set out in the High Street of Sarajevo in 2012 to commemorate the deaths of the people in the siege of Sarajevo 20 years previously, the book tells the story of a war criminal who arrives in a small Irish coastal town. His effect on the people is both powerful and tragic. The book follows the fortunes of one of those villagers as she moves to London and also visits the War Crimes tribunal in the Hague.
It is very typical of Edna O’Brien that the prose is economical, lean and exactly tells the story, without ambiguity or fuss.
Edna was interviewed by Andrew O’Hagan, himself a Booker shortlisted writer (for his novel Our Fathers), and he did a great job, asking just the questions I wanted to ask. I loved the novel and I feel very privileged to have been at the event.
- Tonight I am going to Jordans Village Hall to hear the brilliant storyteller, Ben Haggarty. He came many years ago to Chorleywood Library and was one of the best storytellers I have ever heard so I can’t wait. http://benhaggarty.com/
- On Sunday BBC Radio 4 are dramatising my all time favourite book, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It will be in 3 parts, the first on Sunday at 3pm. I wonder how they will do it and if the voices will be coincide with those of my imagination?
- Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan will be out in paperback on March 26th so you can read this wonderful book, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2014. You can pre order it from Chorleywood Bookshop. Why not email them on email@example.com? If you are not local order it from hive.co.uk You can nominate Chorleywood Bookshop as your favourite on Hive even if you are not local
What a lot to look forward to!