Inheritance Books: Elle Turner

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

Hello, it’s been a while. I’ve finally brushed down the Inheritance Books sofa in order to welcome Elle Turner. And I’ve got stollen! You’ve got to love stollen. yummmm.

Anyway, welcome to Inheritance Books, Elle. Why don’t you start us off by telling us a bit about yourself.

100_0740Thank you so much, Rhoda, for having me on Inheritance Books! It’s a lovely idea and I’m delighted to be taking part.

My love of books started when I was very young and I first decided to write a book myself when I was eight. I only got as far as chapter headings, though, and these were directly influenced by the books my mum introduced me to that I talk about below. I did have some real friends, but I spent most of my time talking (out loud) to the Famous Five and sleeping with a stuffed dog called Timmy on my feet. My young childhood was definitely characterised by books, sitting by the fire when the weather was bad (as it often was as I live in beautiful, but often wet and windy, Scotland) or in my bed until I could hardly keep my eyes open. I thought in stories, imagined I lived in the books I read and was more than happy with their characters for company. 🙂

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

IMG_1563It’s really my mum who started me off down the path of loving books. She gave me many, but the ones I loved the most were from the Abbey Series by Elsie J. Oxenham. These were stories of young women and schoolgirls growing up by an Abbey near High Wycombe. Red-haired Joan and Joy were the original Abbey Girls and the series followed them into adulthood, with eventually their own children following the original Abbey Girls’ traditions. I only have a few of the books, nowadays they are collectors’ items, but I’d love to track down more in the series one day.

The Abbey Girls were members of the Hamlet Club, they learned elaborate country dances that I wanted to be able to do and spent ages prancing around our living room pretending I could. The girls were chosen to be “May Queens” with their own designated flower and colour associated with their reign. I wore a nightie of my mum’s and rooted through our linen cupboard for something I could use as a train when I was pretending to be a May Queen. I think I used a bath towel in the end, probably not exactly the look the characters were going for! Joy was responsible for me wanting red hair from a young age, something I’ve achieved a few times over the years. Sometimes a female character would “disappear” for a short while only to “reappear” with twins, which I also thought was kinda cool. A bit eerily, fast forward a few years and I too now have twins, so I should probably be grateful I inherited the Abbey books from mum and not, say, a Stephen King novel, or who knows how my life would have turned out. 😉

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

IMG_1560My twin boys are now in their early teens. I think the book I would want to pass on to them is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It was on the syllabus at school when I was just a few years older than they are now and it’s the main book from that time that resonated with me. It’s such a famous book that we probably all know it’s about the burning of books as they are no longer allowed in society. Books are thought to cause unrest and unhappiness as they risk leading people to think. Better to be anaesthetised watching screens the size of walls pump information that doesn’t take too much processing.

Eep.

Considering it was written in 1953, it’s a scary, but wonderful, book. I remember my English teacher saying that when she first was teaching it, personal Walkman stereos were starting to become popular. This was the advent of people walking about wearing earphones, disconnected from those around them (which I’m not immune to doing, I admit). It struck such a chord with me at the time (around 35 years after the book was written) and I’d love to know how it’s viewed by my guys a further 30 years down the line.

That’s quite a mind-boggling thought. Thank you for sharing your inheritance books with us, Elle. Good luck with your new book.

TAPESTRY_front150dpiElle’s latest book Tapestry is available to buy now. You can find out more about Elle by visiting her on Twitter (@ElleTWriter), Instagram (elletwriter), Facebook (elleturnerwriter) or her website (www.elleturnerwriter.com). 

 

 

Inheritance Books: Linda Mitchelmore

This week I’m delighted to welcome a fellow Choc Lit writer, Linda Mitchelmore to Inheritance Books. Hi Linda, grab a slice of cake and tell us a bit about yourself.

LINDA MITCHELMOREI’m a Devonshire dumpling! Born and brought up in Paignton, where I still live. I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else. From the house I live in now I’m just a ten minute walk from the sea in one direction, and a ten minute walk from open countryside in the other. Both places give me plenty of settings for the short stories and novels that I write. I came to short story writing back in the late 1990s when my hearing had all but gone due to viral damage – I could remember sound in my head and found it comforting to write about it. I also dabbled a bit with journalism, writing mostly about the arts for county magazines although I was commissioned to write health and beauty articles which made my family (husband of numpty-nump years, Roger, and son, James, and daughter, Sarah) laugh their socks off because I never wear make-up, save for a slick of lipstick. But a girl can’t be at the keyboard twenty-four seven so to keep the balance I walk every day for at least half an hour, often double that. And I’m a very willing pillion passenger on my husband’s vintage motorbikes, more so in summer than in winter. I’ve got the full Monty motorcycle gear that I wish was leather but isn’t, but it keeps me safe.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

A very battered, 1937, copy of Gone with the Wind was given me at a low time in my life. After the birth of my daughter I had the most severe post natal depression. At the time (1976) my parents were live-in companions to a wealthy widow, Gladys Spanton. GONE WITH THE WINDShe loved to see me and my children, although she’d never had any of her own. One day, while she and I, and my children, were all sitting in the garden I burst into tears and blurted out about the post natal depression to her – the first time I’d given it a name to anyone. She went indoors and came out with her copy of Gone with the Wind. She said something along the lines of, ‘You need somewhere to escape to, and this will do very well.’ It did. I know this book is a bit Marmite in that some love it and some detest it, but I was grabbed by the first five words – Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful …’ But she’s got something, I thought, and read on. That book transported me to another country and another time in history and it helped me crawl out of my deep post natal depression.

The third in my ‘Emma’ trilogy is just published and I’m aware now just how much Margaret Mitchell’s book has (subconsciously) influenced me. The last line of her book – After all, tomorrow is another day – was crying out for a sequel in my opinion. Except there never was one. And although, back then, the thought of writing a novel (or even short stories) had never entered my head my delight knows no bounds today to find myself on shelves in book shops and libraries between Margaret Mitchell and Nancy Mitford – what placing! And in a rather spooky way, Margaret Mitchell has dedicated her book to JRM, the same initials my son has to whom I dedicated my first novel.

Which book would you leave for future generations? Why?

Bread Alone by Judi Hendricks. This came to me as a freebie with a magazine. Like Margaret Mitchell before her, Judi Hendricks is American. I fell in love with Hendricks’ short, sharp, sentences from page one. She has – for the most part – a very spare way of getting a lot of description across in very few words. I fell in love with her first person, present tense, viewpoint – I love reading it and I love writing it. It gets the reader into the moment, I think. Again, I came to this book before I ever wrote a novel of my own. But on the last page her description of a kiss is something any aspiring writer should read. ‘The second kiss is longer, more interesting. It takes me places – like flying down the sidewalk on my first ride without training wheels. Like diving into a wave off Zuma Beach. Like spotting France from 35,000 feet and knowing that somewhere down there in a maze of pink brick, the Boulangerie du Pont was waiting for me. It sets me down gently but firmly on this speck of land off the coast of Washington where mud is drying on my shoe and Mac is holding me against him in a way that leaves very little doubt as to his intentions.’

Lovely choices Linda. Thank you for dropping by and sharing your Inheritance Books. All the best for all three of your Emma  books.

Emma and her Daughter 150 x 240Linda’s book Emma and Her Daughter is published by Choc Lit and is available to buy now. If you want to have an idea of what Linda’s books are like, I’ve reviewed Red is For Rubies here. You can stalk find out more about Linda on her blog, Facebook or find her on Twitter (@lindamitchelmor).

Inheritance Books: Julie Maxwell

This week’s Inheritance Books come from writer and academic Julie Maxwell. 

Hello Julie, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please, tell us a bit about yourself. Julie Maxwell[1]

I learned to read and write when I was very young. Ever since I’ve been contriving ways to avoid doing anything else. One of my earliest memories is of being scolded for hogging the toilet (there was only one in the house) because I was actually sitting there reading a book. Maybe it was The Billy Goats Gruff, which I loved so much I wanted to get ‘inside’ it and more than once ripped it up in an attempt to do so! I also remember getting very worked up by my inability to get the tails of my y’s and g’s to go neatly under the line of my exercise book. My mother tried to tell me, ‘It doesn’t matter, Julie.’ But I insisted, ‘It matters to me.’ (Yep, I’ve always been like that.)

After reading English literature at Christ Church, Oxford, I became an academic who specialises in researching and teaching early modern English literature (i.e. Shakespeare and his contemporaries). I also publish pieces on contemporary fiction. But in 2003 my life changed when I was given a three-year Junior Research Fellowship at New College, Oxford. I had the time to do nothing but read, research, and write. That was where I wrote my first novel, You Can Live Forever. To my delight it won a Betty Trask Award (for the Best First Novels by Commonwealth Authors under 35). Last year I published a second novel, These Are Our Children – a tragi-comic story about the problems that so many women experience during pregnancy and childbirth.

 

Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?

 

Tales of Long Ago retold by Enid Blyton. When I was about 7 or 8, we had next-door neighbours whose own kids had grown up. One day the dad casually mentioned over the garden fence that he’d give us all their old books. When exactly? we wanted to know. Tales of Long AgoTomorrow, he said. So my sister and I went round there the next day, at some over-zealous hour like six in the morning, dragging him out of bed. He stood wearily at the front door in his caramel-and-cream striped dressing gown. No, he didn’t have the books to hand. However, we got a huge boxful pretty quickly after that – presumably so that his next lie-in would not be disturbed. There were loads of brilliant children’s novels, but what stood out to me was Enid Blyton’s retelling of the tales in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Being a kid, I didn’t really register the force of the word ‘retold’ on the front cover. I thought that Blyton was the original author of the masterpiece! I was already a fan of the Famous Five, etc, but my opinion of her really went up after that. I gave the story of my encounter with ‘Blyton’s’ Metamorphoses to a character in my novel These Are Our Children.

 

 Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall. You never know what’s going to happen next and Decline and Fall is what I’d call emergency reading. You can read it in a day any time you’re in despair. If the end of civilisation envisaged by so many novelists materialises, forget the search for tinned goods and stock up on Evelyn Waugh! For the struggling novelist in particular, Howard Jacobson’s Zoo Time (which I’m currently halfway through) seems to have a similar curative effect.

 

Thank you for sharing you Inheritance Books with us, Julie. All the best for your new book.

TAOC PBJulie’s book These are Our Children is available now. You can contact Julie through Quercus books.

Inheritance Books – Helena Fairfax

This week’s Inheritance Books are from fellow RNA member, Helena Fairfax.

Hi Helena, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please, have a biscuit and tell us a bit about yourself.

Helena Fairfax photoMy name’s Helena Fairfax, and I’m addicted to reading.  Since books don’t come with a health warning, no one except my long-suffering husband has ever commented on my affliction, but if books were ever taken away from me I would probably have to run amok before going seriously cold turkey.

Besides chain reading I’ve been scribbling on and off at romances for many years, but it wasn’t until last year that I really decided to try and make a serious go of writing.  My first two romances were published in 2013.

I studied languages at University and have travelled a lot.  I’ve also moved house many, many times (sigh), but am now firmly settled in Saltaire village, on the edge of the Yorkshire moors.   My dog and I go walking there every day, and we discuss characters and story arcs.   (Well, my dog pretends to listen.  Secretly she’s thinking about killing wildlife.)  Once we’re at home my dog sleeps the sleep of the innocent whilst I try to make the thoughts in my head come to life on the page.

 

 Which book have you inherited from generations above? Why is it special?

Jane AustenOne of the best presents I ever received was this complete Penguin set of Jane Austen, given to me by my mum on my fifteenth birthday.  You can probably tell by the state of the books that it’s a number of years since I was a teenager!  They did come in a beautiful cardboard box, which has long since disintegrated.  And check out the condition of Pride and Prejudice, with its faded and Sellotaped spine.  The whole set has literally been read to bits.

I remember sitting on the kerb in the playground at school reading P&P for the first time (oh lucky me!), totally gripped by Darcy’s proposal to Lizzie. In my teenage ignorance I’d assumed Jane Austen was going to be staid and dull, but I was absolutely gobsmacked.  I just had to find out what happened next.  So I hid behind some coats in the cloakroom and became so absorbed in the whole drama of it that I missed the bell for registration and ended up in detention.  Detention for reading Jane Austen!  The irony.  It was worth it, though.

I’ve since bought brand new sets for my own daughters, and I hope Austen’s novels bring them both the same sense of excitement, the same delight, wonder and sheer joy that they have always brought me.

 

Who doesn’t love a bit of Jane Austen? Which book would you leave to generations below? Why?

Miss Happiness and Miss FlowerThe book I’d like to pass down is Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, by Rumer Godden.  Here’s my battered copy, the very one carried by me to Primary school and pored over with my grubby hands.  This is the first book I ever read where I really “got” what reading was all about.

To put you in the picture: I was born in Uganda, and didn’t arrive to live in Yorkshire until I was six.  Until then I’d never been to school.  When I got here, I hated it.  I couldn’t understand what the other children were saying to me with their accents; the skies were grey; I was cold, miserable and homesick. [I have similar memories of when I first arrived in Yorkshire. I did a lot of smiling and nodding -RB].

Then I read Rumer Godden’s story and – amazing!  Here was a little girl, just arrived in England from India, who felt exactly as I did.  I was bowled over by it.

I re-read this story recently and am amazed by the author’s ability to relate so well to a child’s total misery.  The book is a very uncomfortable read for me now, but it’s a great lesson for parents not to underestimate what children feel.  Reading it as a child it certainly resonated with my own sense of powerlessness.

Here’s a particularly bleak passage.  Nona, the little girl in the book, is mailed a present of two Japanese dolls, the Miss Happiness and Miss Flower of the title, and during their uncomfortable journey the dolls talk to one another:

‘Where are we now?’ asked Miss Flower.  ‘Is it another country?’      

‘I think it is,’ said Miss Happiness.

‘It’s strange and cold.  I can feel it through the box,’ said Miss Flower, and she cried ‘…I wish we had not come!’

Miss Happiness sighed and said, ‘We were not asked.’

I’ve devoured all Rumer Godden’s books since then, both adults’ and children’s, and love all of them.  She has a fantastic insight and empathy with how people feel.  I wish I could write like she does.

 That sounds like a very intriguing book. (scurries off to Amazon to go check it out).

Thanks for asking me about my inheritance books, Rhoda.  I’ve really enjoyed revisiting them!

You’re very welcome, Helena. It was lovely having you. Here, have a couple of extra biscuits to take with you. Pop by again soon.

The Silk Romance 333x500Helena’s debut novel, The Silk Romance, was published May 2103.  The Silk Romance is a contender for the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Award 2014. You can find out more about Helena from her website or Facebook and catch up with her on Twitter (@helenafairfax).

 

Inheritance Books – Christine Stovell

Today’s Inheritance Books come from Christine Stovell who writes lovely romances for Choc Lit. Hi Chris, welcome to Inheritance Books. Tell me a bit about yourself. 

Hi Rhoda, thanks very much for inviting me to share my inheritance books with you – Chris Publicity March 2010 RI’ve really enjoyed thinking about these!  I’m Chris Stovell, novelist and writer. I’m published by Choc Lit, I’m also a short story writer and I’ve contributed work to Honno Welsh Women’s Press. I’ve sailed half way round Britain and run four half marathons but I also like to start the day with a good old hula hooping session.  I live and write on the coast of west Wales.

Gosh, just hearing about all that exercise makes me feel tired! The sailing explains why you set your first novel in a ship yard. Which book have you inherited from your parents/grandparents? Why is it special?

My dad was a carpenter, my mum a school cook.  The hardships of their own upbringings meant that reading time was scarce and precious, so it was a luxury they very much wanted for me.  I learned to read before I went to school, teaching myself from whatever comic Dad had bought for me when he collected the Sunday papers.  Our house was full of books – to make up for what my parents had missed, I guess – and since neither of them believed in age-appropriate reading I could chose freely from their collection.  I remember scaring myself silly with Dennis Wheatley’s The Haunting of Toby Jugg, deciding that the Harold Robbins paperbacks were possibly a bit grown-up for me and being utterly transported by Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki Expedition.

In later life, my dad became deeply interested in history, particularly military and political history. For a man with little in the way of formal education, he could immerse

Inheritance Books 002r

himself in the weightiest tomes, many of which were birthday or Christmas gifts from me.  So guess what I inherited after his death?  Yep, these really are my inheritance books; pictured are just a few volumes in a whole library of Dad’s books that I’m struggling to read, but which will always be special as a reminder of the man who did so much to make me the reader and writer that I am.

My Dad had a copy of The Ra expeditions by Thor Hyerdahl. I wish I’d nicked it and read it now. Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

Wah!  This is so difficult as there are too many to choose from so I’m going to have to cheat and squeeze a couple in.  My something-for-everyone choice would be the Oxford Library of English Poetry for stimulation and inspiration. For parents of small children, I’d pass on Jill Tomlinson’s wonderful The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, the book that helped my elder daughter conquer her fear of the light being turned out.  It’s hard to single out one novel because so many of my favourites are reminiscent of a particular moment in time and that’s certainly true of the one that, with some trepidation I’m going to pass on now.

One of the books on my parents’ shelves was an old copy of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle.  I was on the cusp of adolescence and already thinking about being a writer when I picked it up.  Its incomparable opening Inheritance Books 004rsentence, ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ made me long to create a world, a location and characters equally evocative and compelling. Although the book’s initial appeal was due in part to reading it as a young girl wondering how it felt to fall in love, it’s Smith’s poignant insight into disappointment in life and love and the compromises we all have to reach that makes it a book worth returning to. I hope that my poor old copy, firmly claimed with my book stamp and sabotaged by my little sister, will bring as much joy to someone else in the future.

I love both those books. Having re-read The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark to my daughter, I’ve become reacquainted with it. I’d forgotten  how wonderful an funny the characters are.

Thank you so much for sharing your Inheritance Books, Chris. I hope your new book zooms up the charts.

MODarlingChris’s latest novel is published on Choc Lit and is available from Amazon and other retailers. You can find out more about Chris on her website (www.christinestovell.com), her blog (

http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/) and on Twitter (@chrisstovell)

Inheritance Books – Fay Cunningham

This week, the lovely Fay Cunningham shares her Inheritance Books.

Hi Fay, welcome to the blog. Please tell me a bit about yourself.

My name is Fay Cunningham and I am a writer. 

Even when I was doing multiple other jobs like PA to a CEO, secretary at the East Anglian Examinations Board and a sales rep for Empire Stores, I still considered myself a writer. It began at school, I think, when I was about 11years old and got an award for writing a short story about a dog. From then on I was hooked. I am an only child and my friends lived mostly in my head.

When I was very small I lived with my grandmother and my aunt. My grandfather was an invalid and bed-ridden, but I remember sitting on his bed while he read me a story. He died when I was about six years old and I wish I had been given time to know him better. My grandmother and my aunt were avid readers as well, so I think I get my love of books from them. The house was always full of books and my reading was never censored, even when I was very small. I read Pilgrim’s Progress when I was ten, and I know there was a copy of Lady Chatterley in the house because I remember flipping through it. I think I found it rather boring.

I had a long absence from writing while I was bringing up three daughters and looking after grandchildren. I am now retired so I have time to write. I love writing, but I like living too, particularly holidays abroad, so I make sure writing doesn’t take up all my time. I write crime and romantic suspense and I am a member of the RNA. All my books are available on Amazon.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above you? Why is it special?

I have inherited several old books from my grandmother: a 1909 copy of The Water-Babies (the original title has a hyphen) by Charles Kingsley with illustrations by Warwick Goble; and a 1916 copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There (again, the original title of the book). This has illustrations by John Tenniel and the pictures are just magical.

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

I loved Water Babies as a child, and I will definitely leave this to my great grandchildren – if it lasts that long. I was taught that books are for reading, so all the old ones are a bit the worse for wear, but very much loved. Not only for the wonderful stories, but for the memories that live within each page.

I remember reading The Water Babies and finding it slightly scary. I can’t remember why it scared me though. It was probably the chimneys.

Thanks for sharing your Inheritance Books, Fay. Hope to see you again soon.

Fay’s latest novella ‘Love or Marriage‘ is available on Amazon.