This week’s Inheritance Books are from Alison May, fellow Choc-Lit novelist. I know Alison through the RNA and
waste spend time having silly conversations with her on Twitter. I’m reading her book at the moment.
Hi Alison, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Ahoy there. I’m Alison. I’m a writer. I’m based in Worcester, but I’m a Yorkshire girl originally. I write romantic comedies, and I’ve recently signed my first publishing contract with Choc Lit. I live with my husband and no children. I have heard about children, but it sounds like getting one would very much reduce my shoe and chocolate budget, so that’s a no, I’m afraid.
In my non-writing life, I train advisers for the Citizens Advice bureau and teach people about welfare benefits and employment law. So, if anyone would like me to check their tax credits while I’m here that would be peachy-fine.
My first novel, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing, is published by Choc Lit Lite. It’s a modern day romantic comedy based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and featuring lots of romance, a splash of tequila and just a tiny bit of maths.
You forgot to mention the slime mould. (I was very excited about this, as you probably guessed. I defy you to read about Dictyostelium discoideum behaviour and not be intrigued.)
um… anyway, which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?
Choosing my inheritance book was so easy. Straight away, I grabbed my very tatty copy of AA Milne’s The Christopher Robin Storybook from my shelf. It’s an anthology of Milne’s poetry and stories; my copy claims to have been published in 1931, and has the name Eileen Dalgleish handwritten on the inside cover. I have no idea who Eileen Dalgleish is, but she gave up her copy of The Christopher Robin Storybook for my family’s enjoyment and for that, I salute her.
The book came to me via my mother, who reckons she bought it from the Scarborough Girls High School Fayre when she was 11 for about a penny. Apparently, it was just as tatty then as it is now. When I asked her about the book recently, she also claimed never to have given it to me, so it may be that this isn’t technically an Inheritance Book, but a Stolen Book. Sorry readers (and sorry Mum).
Part of me thinks that I ought to single out a more grown-up and literary tome for my inherited book. My mother definitely passed a love of books and reading that goes well beyond Winnie-The-Pooh – I could have picked anything by any of the Brontes for example, but when you’re feeling a little bit blue nothing beats A A Milne. My mum can still quote chunks of his poems from memory, and I defy anyone to read In Which Tigger Comes to the Forest and Has Breakfast, and not end up feeling at least a tiny bit more positive about the world. It’s a book full of moments that make you smile.
Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
This is so much more difficult. I don’t think the entire Terry Pratchett Discworld series is available in a single volume, so I’ve ruled that out. After that, I’ve chewed over lots of different ideas, but one book keeps rising to the top of my musings: Margaret Attwood’s The Blind Assassin. Apart from loving the story, and the quality and subtlety of the writing, I’m blown away by the confidence with which this story is told. There are different time periods and different narrators and stories within stories and secrets and hints at things just beneath the surface of what you’re reading. There are layers to every character and every part of the story, which means you can read it again and again and keep discovering something new.
I read The Blind Assassin for the first time in my early twenties, around the time that I first started thinking that I might want to try writing. This was the book that made me realise that stories don’t have to be told from beginning to end, in chronological order, in third person prose. You can jump around. You can make characters talk directly to the reader. You can make characters hide their real story inside another story. That was such an exciting thing to discover. Obviously, I then spent the next ten years realising how hard that is to actually do. Attwood, of course, is an utter genius with the ways of story. As both a reader and a writer, I simply love this book.
I think I would have allowed you the complete works of Terry Pratchett (which would take up several shelves). The Blind Assassin is a great choice – it’s a very interesting book. As you say, layers.
Thank you for sharing you Inheritance Books with us, Alison. I hope all the hard work pays off and your writing career zooms off now.
You can find my review here.