This week’s Inheritance Books are from Ali Bacon.
Hi Ali, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I was brought up in Scotland in a family where reading was high on the agenda. We weren’t particularly well-off but I sometimes wonder if the value my parents put on books and the enjoyment they got from novels was part of what made me want to be a writer.
Anyway, I was lucky enough to go to St. Andrews university for four amazing years, then moved to Bristol with my boyfriend/fiancé/husband and we’re still there now. I worked mostly as a librarian, but didn’t particularly relate this to a love of reading as most of my time was spent in colleges and universities, helping readers and organising information, all of which I enjoyed in a different way. As a writer I made more false starts than I care to think of, but finally got going around 10 years ago when a few things – including a big birthday – galvanised me into action. I now consider writing to be my second career – or that’s what I tell myself!
Which book have you inherited from generations above? Why is it special?
At home I loved our old-fashioned Children’s Encyclopedia, my Mum’s old fairy story books and leather bound editions of the classics as well as all the things I brought home from regular trips to the library. The one I’m choosing, though is a bit of an oddity.
StrewwelPeter was originally a German book from the Victorian era and most likely came to our family from an elderly aunt who spent part of her childhood in Berlin. It’s a book of cautionary tales for children which you can now read in its entirety online http://konkykru.com/e.hoffmann.html, although as you see it’s not for the fainthearted! No prizes for guessing that Harriet met a terrible end after playing with matches, likewise Conrad Suck-a-Thumb (look out for the red-legged Scissor Man – my favourite!)
Why did I like these macabre tales so much? When I got the book out to read to my own children, I realised that it’s a) crudely drawn b) printed on horrid paper and c) utterly barbaric! But the rhymes made compelling reading and maybe the unusual origin and strange (to me) names also lent it an exotic flavour. Many of the lines passed into our family’s canon of favourite quotations and I’m sure it also played its part in establishing a love of words and reading, which is why I’m nominating it here.
Which book would you pass on to generations below? Why?
Well this really is a toughie, partly because ‘my favourite book’ is a concept that changes from year to year if not week to week, in fact every time something new enthralls me. I’ve never been able to settle on one all-time favourite book or even favourite writer. However I think it’s going to have to be Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale that I would pass on to my children.
What, I hear you cry, you are saddling your kids with feminist dystopian fiction? But I would say, forget the categories, it’s a damned good read! What drew me into it is the strong sense of intrigue in the opening chapter (where are we, what’s going on, what does the heroine mean by ‘the time before’?) And as the story progresses there’s a rattling plot with plenty of drama not to mention sexual tension (and what is a book without that?) Of course it also deals with the issue of a woman’s enslavement to her biology, something very few of us will avoid completely in our lives, but I think it also has the ingredients to keep a non-fiction-reading man (i.e. my son!) interested. Finally, despite being a ‘modern classic’ – whatever that means, it strikes me as very much a book of ‘my’ time. I read it in my twenties when it really gripped me to the extent it was a book I felt I ought to keep and reread. But despite being ‘futuristic’ it describes a world in which CDs and cassette tapes are still around, so there’s a nostalgia element to it as well.
There’s nothing wrong with leaving feminist dystopian fiction for the later generations. They don’t need to read it until they’re old enough. Tapes… aah, nostalgia!
Thank you very much for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Ali. Where can we find out more about you and your books?
My own first book is a coming-of-age novel set in Scotland about a girl who falls for the local fishmonger but then gets bogged down in her family’s murky past. Described as a roller-coaster family drama, the e-book is from Thornberry Publishing (£1.99) and also in paperback (£8.99) both editions available from Amazon UK and USA.
Website and blog: http://alibacon.com
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Good luck with your first book! It’s a very exciting time. I hope it zips up the charts.
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