This week’s guest is Sharon Booth, writer of cosy rom coms and books about modern witches. Hi Sharon, welcome to Inheritance Books. I’ve got chocolate Hobnobs, especially. While I go find them, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, Rhoda, and thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog. I grew up in Hessle, East Yorkshire, and spent a lot of my time reading. I was a real bookworm and frequently visited the local library which, in those days, was above the town hall. I can still hear the creaking of those stairs as I climbed up to what was then my favourite place in the world — usually in the company of my dad.
Both my parents read a lot. Mum mostly read Catherine Cookson novels and Dad preferred non-fiction, and almost every evening they would sit in the living room, each absorbed in their current read. I’d be in an armchair, head buried in another book. I’m very grateful that I had parents who loved books.
Reading was probably the reason I loved school. I was lucky because all three of my schools had well-stocked libraries, so I had loads of material to go at. It wasn’t unusual for me to stagger home with seven or eight library books in my school bag. Once the teacher realised I actually read them all, he helped me search for suitable novels to take home. He knew I was pony mad and scoured the shelves for pony books for me. The shelves were full of them and I was in heaven!
Enid Blyton kickstarted my passion for reading. The first book I was ever given was a Noddy book, which I treasured, but I soon progressed through the likes of Brer Rabbit and Mr Twiddle to the Secret Seven, Hollow Tree House, Mistletoe Farm, Willow Farm, Cherry Tree Farm, Malory Towers and of course the Famous Five. My favourite presents at Christmas were always the three books that my parents bought me. Before long, I wanted to try my hand at writing my own stories, just like Enid Blyton. Who’d have thought it would lead me to becoming a full-time author?
Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?
I didn’t inherit this book, but it’s one I’ve loved since my primary school days. It’s Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm by Enid Blyton (who else?) and it was the book that sparked my interest in ponies and pony books. I quickly followed it up with the sequel, Six Cousins Again. I just loved the story of two sets of three cousins who, through difficult circumstances, find themselves sharing a home, even though they barely know each other and have little in common. The three country children live on Mistletoe Farm and are appalled to have their three townie cousins thrust upon them. And, to be fair to them, the townie children are pretty awful — particularly Melisande, who thinks her country clod cousins are beneath contempt. The story shows how the six of them learn to get along together, and how each of them gradually changes in some way, becoming more tolerant and understanding of their cousins and their own siblings. The sequel is equally as good. I lost my childhood copies, but I found this edition on eBay and snapped it up. It contains both stories in one volume and I still love them. Reading them takes me straight back to summery childhood days, lying on my bed, sun streaming through the open window, book in hand, lost in the world of Mistletoe Farm, while downstairs Mum was busy cooking and Dad was out in the garden, mowing the lawn. I can almost smell that freshly cut grass. Happy days.
Oh, I loved the Mistletoe Farm books. To this day, Stir up Sunday makes me think of them.
Which book would you leave to future generations? Why?
I thought long and hard about this, but eventually realised there was only one real contender. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend is, for me, an absolute classic. It was a book that I loved immediately. I knew Adrian! I understood him completely, and I could relate to his family and friends and neighbours. These were people I felt at home with. It’s hilariously funny, but also incredibly moving at times. The things that happen to Adrian aren’t huge events on a global scale, but they affect him deeply and are extraordinary in their ordinariness. His mother’s shenanigans with Mr Lucas, her ardent feminism, the boil-in-the-bag curries, his father’s unemployment, the dog’s frequent trips to the vet, Adrian’s incessant worries about his lack of vitamins and the state of his skin, not to mention his yearning for the unattainable Pandora — it’s perfection. And it’s a brilliant social commentary on working class life in the eighties. Everyone should read the Adrian Mole books!
Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us Sharon. Best of luck with your latest book.
You can find out more about Sharon through her various online homes. Her latest book, To Catch a Witch, is the third and final novel in The Witches of Castle Clair series. It will be published on April 28th and is available to pre-order now.