Inheritance Books: Liz Harris

This week’s Inheritance Books are from my fellow Choc Lit author, Liz Harris. I’ve known Liz through the Oxford chapter of the RNA from way before either of us were published, so I’m delighted that she finally made it to the Inheritance Books sofa. I’ve baked a chocolate cake especially for the occasion.

Hi Liz, welcome to Inheritance Books. While I get us some cake, why don’t you introduce yourself.

Liz HarrisThank you very much for inviting me to chat about books with you today, Rhoda; it’s a lovely idea.

First a bit about me. I’d like to say I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I can’t because I haven’t.

I’ve always been an avid reader of books of every genre; I’ve always loved writing essays, letters, exam answers, and I’ve always enjoyed bringing characters to life in amateur dramatic productions, but it was years before I thought of connecting those three by writing a novel. Books just magically happened, I would have thought, if I’d thought about it at all.

As the years passed by, I devoured all the books I could get, especially those by my favourite authors: from Noel Streatfield and Enid Blyton – the Famous Five were Six when I read her stories – to Mickey Spillane and Jane Austen. Then the day came that I left university, tucked my Law degree under my arm and set off to see the world.

I began in California, and ended there.

I had a brilliant year in San Francisco and then five in Los Angeles, where I tried everything from cocktail waitressing on Sunset Strip to returning hired cars to their home location (imagine being paid to drive convertibles across the State, the radio blaring out, the wind in one’s hair … bliss!); from being the secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company to being a ‘resident starlet’ at MGM. This would make a good novel, I mused at times, but never thought of myself as being the person to write it.

Six years later, real life intervened and I returned to the UK, did a degree in English, and went into teaching. During the following years, I wrote voluminous letters to friends until one day a friend in desperation, a mighty tome from me in her hand, suggested that I write a novel. I took the hint, and in 2012, my debut novel, The Road Back, was published by Choc Lit.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above?

Miniature editions of ShakespeareI could have chosen Children of the New Forest or Little Lord Fauntleroy, both of which were given to me by my mother, and both of which fired my imagination. However, I’ve chosen the complete works of Shakespeare in miniature, which stand in their own wooden case. Tiny though it is, each miniature play is the complete, unabridged play.

The miniature plays were passed down to me by my mother, who was an actress. We started reading Shakespeare as a family when I was about nine, acting out all the parts. My mother and I divided the best roles between us, and my sister and father, reluctant participants, would be allocated third servant or fourth gardener.

Thumb-sized copy of Julius Caesar
Aren’t they dinky!

To read together as a family is a truly lovely thing to do, and I shall never forget how lucky I was to have such an introduction to the greatest of our playwrights, whose themes are universal and are as relevant today as they were when they were written.

Which book would you like to leave to future generations?

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.  This is a short novel, published in 1937, which had originally been written for the radio. It tells the story of the friendship between George and Lennie, two itinerant ranch workers, who move from place to place, searching for work during the Great Depression in the US.

With themes such as dreams – each character in the novella has a dream which gives purpose to his/her life, a purpose which is never more needed than in times of economic hardship – and loneliness and the need for companionship, conveyed in a novella which has the nature of true friendship at its heart, John Steinbeck speaks as powerfully to the readers of today as he spoke to the readers in 1937.Of Mice and Men

I’ve read the novel a number of times, and I never fail to cry at its moving conclusion, which demonstrates the unselfish nature of real friendship. Just as with the plays of Shakespeare, Of Mice and Men, a story told with thought-provoking profundity and a great understanding of human nature, deserves to live for many more years in the minds of readers.

Excellent choices! I read Of Mice and Men a long time ago and still remember bits of it vividly – which is a sign of a great book.

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Liz. All the best with Evie Undercover in paperback.

Evie Undercover paperbackLiz’s latest release Evie Undercover is published by Choc Lit and is available in paperback now. You can find out more about Liz’s books from her website and blog, or chat to her on Facebook or Twitter (@lizharrisauthor). 

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15 thoughts on “Inheritance Books: Liz Harris

  1. Lovely interview, Rhoda and Liz. What a colourful and interesting backstory you have, Liz!
    I recently read Of Mice & Men when my stepdaughter was doing it for GCSE. I really enjoyed the style of writing. So many modern books are light on style IMHO.

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    1. Many thanks for your comment, Rosie. I think kit’s a perfect book for GCSE classes as there;’s so much to be said about it despite its short length.

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      1. The Grapes of Wrath is a superb book, too, though very different in style from, and longer than of Mice and Men. I’d recommend East of Eden and The Pearl, too, if you haven’t read either or both of those, Rhoda and Angela. The Pearl is a very unusual little book.

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  2. I love the miniature too. What a special set to own, Liz. A lovely interview, ladies. Now I have to confess, I haven’t read Of Mice and Men and am wondering why. I shall be scouring for a copy. Thanks for sharing, Liz. 🙂 x

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    1. It’s a good book, Sheryl. You’ll enjoy it. It’s an American classic (sometimes references crop up in US sit coms, mostly along the lines of ‘Woah, easy there, Lenny’.)

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  3. They are supposed to be complete plays, Janet, so the whole of the play should be there. I know they are very tiny, but if you take out the lengthy introduction to each play that appears in the single editions, it’s not impossible to believe the claim. Maybe one day I’ll have a close look at the text of one of the plays and see if I can spot anything missing. 🙂

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