Picking out words in a book of nursery rhymes I quickly learned the magic of words and went on to become a keen reader. I enjoyed Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, etc. At home there were bookcases full of books. Father’s taste veered towards Dickens and the Penguin classics. Mother ‘liked a nice love story’.
At school we were introduced at an early age to some pretty heavy stuff: Shakespeare, Dickens, Walter Scott. It was enough to put anyone off reading. Still, it was fun acting bits of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Tempest. Twelfth Night was a favourite and, living in Bristol at the time, we were able to see it performed at the Bristol Old Vic.
Later on I turned to Daphne du Maurier, Jean Plaidy and the Brontes (Wuthering Heights, especially). I love some of Thomas Hardy’s books, Far from the Madding crowd being a favourite. Now living in Dorset I have experienced for myself the beauty of that dewy morning in Tess. I also enjoy Margaret Pemberton and Noel Barber whose war stories probably influenced my writing.
I still appreciate a good story, with a bit of humour, perhaps, such as that in Christina Jones’s novels. It’s wonderful to pick up a book by a new-to-me author and discover a riveting, page-turning story. This I experienced recently with Jennifer McVeigh’s ‘The Fever Tree’. There are, of course, all the authors who belong to the RNA, both established and new, guaranteed to entertain with a fund of wonderful stories.
One thing I’ve learned if you want to write, write, write is that you must also read, read, read.