I’m delighted to welcome the lovely Liam Livings to Inheritance Books. I met Liam at the RNA conference last year and he laughed a Jane Lovering’s and my jokes during our presentation, so I like him a lot. He also owns some rather snazzy jackets.
I live in Epping Forest, in Essex, it’s very highlights and fake tan, driving around in a Mini Cooper, but I embrace it with both hands. I’ve got family connections there so grew up coming to the area as a child when Mum and Dad came back to visit family at Xmas. When my boyfriend and I both got sick and tired of living in 2 tiny flats in central London we drew a circle from Charing Cross of 15miles and picked somewhere we could afford a house, with a tube station. It’s got a London phone number – I leapt with joy when BT told me I had a 0208 number. It has London buses and a tube station, but strictly speaking, it’s part of Essex.
I love baking, cooking, cats and classic cars. I’ve written a diary and other bits and pieces for years and finally in 2012 I started writing to be published. And Then That Happened is my first full length gay romance to be published.
Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?
Lace by Shirley Conran. I tried to read Fifty Shades of Grey but couldn’t get on with it. So I asked, Clare London, one of my author friends what to recommend instead; she suggested Lace, saying it was where the original bonk buster started. I read an interview with Conran saying she wrote it like a sex instruction manual for young girls, knowing they wouldn’t buy a real sex instruction manual, but if she put similar things in a novel it would be read. She sold millions! To me it symbolises popular women’s fiction at its best. Yes, it’s trashy, yes it’s not *literature* whatever that is, but the characters are wonderful. The thing that kept me reading late into the night and until the bath water was cold was the friendships between the women. They were wonderful, as they changed husbands, careers, boyfriends etc, the women’s friendships stood the test of time. I love its glitzy locations too – ‘Against an international backdrop of the rich, the famous and the depraved, these women – bound together by ties stronger than love itself – created legends.’ *I’m so there* Published in 1982 it was a book that showed women they could have a career, they could be as ball busting as men in the workplace, and more than that, they could do it while still retaining the great qualities women so often have – friendships. I read an article that said, ‘Women use their friendships like a coffee shop, men use theirs like A&E.’
I love that quote about friendships! Another to put on my wall. Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. This was the book that got me into women’s popular fiction. It covers some really serious topics: drug and alcohol addiction, and their affects on family and friends, but it does so in such a way you don’t feel preached at. You gradually find out *how* bad Rachel’s problem with drugs and alcohol was at the same time as she does. Its structure is simple – first person narrative, with two main threads, the now (in the Cloisters rehab place) and flashbacks when Rachel was firing on all four drug-induced cylinders in New York. The other characters you meet in the Cloisters are also so real and heartbreaking you can’t but get involved in their stories. Oh, and it taught me all I know about writing tasteful yet not fade to black sex scenes. I’ve read it a number of times, I’ve read it from a ‘reference’ point of view learning about structure, characters, sex scenes. It is, I think the apogee of popular women’s fiction from the recent past, and something that, like Lace, hasn’t dated and will be read and enjoyed for future generations.