This week’s Inheritance Books come from Alan Hamilton. This part of a tour arranged by Brook Cottage Books.
Hi Alan, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please, tell us a bit about yourself.
I didn’t start writing fiction until I stopped working for large companies, though it could be argued that most of what gets written in business is fiction – the product of fevered imaginations and dressing up the truth to look better than it really is.
I was given the gift of writing clear English. Both at school and university I could always turn out an essay that teachers and examiners seemed to enjoy reading, so writing stories that entertain and inform the reader wasn’t a million miles from what I’d done most of my life.
I love words. I’d still rather read than watch television and I also found work as a copy editor and proof reader for OUP, which keeps my mind active in what I jokingly refer to as ‘retirement’.
I live in Britain, south-west of Bristol, in an impressive-looking mid-Victorian building with stunning views out to sea, with a wife a lot younger than me who stops me from feeling old, and a black tom cat, beautiful both in appearance (jet black all over) and in temperament.
Which book have you inherited from generations above? Why is it special?
In my early teens my mother handed me a hard-bound book – there were far fewer paperbacks then – and told me I’d enjoy it and learn something at the same time. It was The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.
Written as a detective novel, a policeman using his hospitalisation to examine the case of ‘The Princes in the Tower’, it was the first time I’d come across the short reign of Richard III. We’d never ‘done him’ at school; we seemed to skip the middle ages, going straight from the Normans to the Tudors. Reading it started me out on a path which, at the other end of my life, has not only had me joining ‘The Ricardians’, but beginning on an alternative history, or ‘what if?’; the starting point being that Richard wins at Bosworth, so writing the Tudors out of history.
Not long ago I read a Colin Dexter tale, The Wench is Dead, where Morse, recuperating in hospital, solves a real 19th century murder mystery. Now where could the author have got that idea from?
Which book would you leave to generations below? Why?
If I could pass on one current work of fiction to the attention of a younger generation, it would be We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
This is very much a book for our times. It so well-written that the reader has to keep turning the pages but it also links back to the history of the novel, being written as a series of letters (all from the same person to the same person. Through the one-way correspondence we are drawn-in to a mother’s (and ex-wife’s) angst about her son, from birth to almost adulthood; her constant questioning of her own part in the difficulties he has always presented but also of the extent to which the father had contributed. There are, of course, no answers to this familiar problem for recent generations of parents. Then, like a blow on the head we weren’t expecting, we discover where all this has led.
It’s a story with a narrator (or correspondent) who is a complex character and maybe not reliable, either, and that leaves hanging how much she is responsible for the outcome. But for me, the most remarkable aspect of the writing is that at the end I felt real and deep pity for the son, in spite of what he had done, and that disturbance remained with me well after I’d finished the book. I think it’s the ultimate skill of a novelist to move a reader to deep emotion in the course of telling the tale, and this is an outstanding example of it.
Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us Alan. All the best with you latest book.
Alan is running a giveaway (2 e-copies and 2 paperback copies of his book). You can enter the giveaway via rafflecopter – just click the groovy red button below.