I got published this year! Thus my life has changed irrevocably in some ways and remains comfortingly the same in many others. But one thing that has altered quite a bit is my reading habit. To be honest, in recent years I just haven’t made enough time to read novels, especially new novels. There is a touch of the busman’s holiday about this i.e. when not writing novels, I’m either researching novels or planning novels or editing novels etc. So reading another novel isn’t always top of my list to relax! Reading non-fiction or watching TV crime can seem a bit more of a break, at times. However, in my youth I read novels incessantly, so I do have a large backlist of classic literature, yet one thing I’d neglected for years was the reading of new fiction.
This year, that’s all changed. Now that I’m published, and have joined social media, I’ve found out about some wonderful new writers and books from my publisher Hodder & Stoughton yet also through the countless recommendations I might randomly spot on Twitter. I’ve been introduced to new talent and discovered old favourites I’d never got round to, and my reading has broadened hugely – & I’m very grateful for that.
So here’s a list of some of the very interesting novels I’ve discovered this year, in order of reading:
MRS SINCLAIR’S SUITCASE by Louise Walters – a dual-time narrative about a 1940s romance & a present-day lonely lady in a book shop. Very touching and memorable, especially the stream-of-consciousness scene which blew me away.
THE CRIMSON RIBBON by Katherine Clements – set around the era of the English Civil War, a true page-turner of a tale about accusations of witchcraft, Cromwell, printing, love and friendship and much more. Full of surprises & gritty period detail.
AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS by Martine Bailey – a romantic mystery set in one of my favourite periods, the C18th, full of contemporary recipes and delicious secrets.
PLAGUE LAND by S.D. Sykes – a murder mystery with a stark sense of place, set in the fascinating time period of the C14th introducing a new detective in dark times.
HERRING GIRL by Debbie Taylor – a host of voices people this compelling story of hypnosis and past lives, set in recent times & late C19th North Shields.
THIS IS WHERE I AM by Karen Campbell – a haunting novel that tells the timely and necessary tale of a Somali refugee and his Glaswegian mentor.
CONVERSATIONS WITH SPIRITS by E.O. Higgins – hugely entertaining detective story which pokes at the spiritualism hysteria of Conan Doyle’s era, introducing a great new Victorian detective duo.
PICTURE ME GONE by Meg Rosoff – deceptively simple in style, this profound story of a friend gone missing creates another memorable young person and explores her closest relationships and vivid inner life.
THE CAZALET BOOKS & SLIPSTREAM by Elizabeth Jane Howard – my classic writer discovery of the year; my I-can’t-believe-I-haven’t-read-her-before choice of the year – the astonishingly brilliant E. J. Howard. Having spent most of the summer and early autumn buried in the Cazalet chronicles, I feel as if this family and their friends are real people I knew once and haven’t seen for years. Subtle, beautifully written, so funny and so sad, just pure novelistic genius. Read her.
New novels I’m looking forward to in 2015:
THE SHIP by Antonia Honeywell – I’ve been lucky enough to get my paws on a review copy of this and let me tell you, you’re in for a treat. Speculative fiction at its intelligent best and a fable for our times. And if it’s not made into a hit movie before the decade is out, I’ll eat my hat.
SUMMERTIME by Vanessa La Faye – a very recent discovery, a wonderful-sounding tale about the 1935 hurricane that ravaged Florida, this looks like a super debut.
??? by Kerry Drewery – I happen to be very, very fortunate in that I’m a long-term reading buddy of Ms Drewery, and so I get to read her first drafts! *smug* And take my word for it, she has a corker of a novel (as yet untitled) coming up…In the meantime, while you wait, you can check out her 2 multi-award-nominated novels from HarperCollins, A BRIGHTER FEAR, set during the first Iraq war & A DREAM OF LIGHTS, set in terrifying North Korea. Beautiful novels both, for young adults, or not so young adults – for anyone who wants a highly memorable read and to learn about the wide world out there…
Lastly, my TBR pile presently – this may well change almost weekly :-/…
Wish me luck getting through that teetering pile of loveliness…
I’ve also been reading a stack of non-fiction books to support my Work In Progress, but I think I’ll need to be a bit mysterious about that one, as I haven’t written it yet; suffice to say presently that it’s set in the early years of the C20th & I’ve also been devouring Edwardian novels and movies as research and dreaming of fabulous hats and frocks…
2015 for me is something to get a bit excited about, as my second novel for Hodder & Stoughton is coming out in June: SONG OF THE SEA MAID (cover reveal as and when I get it – can’t wait!), about an C18th orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery…
and my first novel THE VISITORS is out in German, published by Droemer Knaur in the autumn (cover reveal as above!)
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who read THE VISITORS this year and particularly those readers, book bloggers and booksellers who reviewed and even championed this book – I am eternally and humbly grateful.
Happy Reading for 2015, my friends, Merry Xmas and a Joyful New Year!
Thanks for reading. 🙂