I’m delighted to be joining a stellar line-up of authors for North Ayrshire Libraries Readers’ Day on the 26th October. Here’s what’s happening:
“There are four of the best authors in Scotland for you to meet and talk with about what they write and what they read - Douglas Jackson, Doug Johnstone, Shari Low and Marianne Wheelaghan. Author Keith Charters will host the event and quiz the authors about their reading and writing methods.”
In preparation for the day’s talks, I had to pick a favourite book to discuss. This wasn’t easy. There are so many very good books out there, how was I going to pick just one? However, after much humming and hawing, a clear winner emerged: “We have Always Lived in The Castle” by Shirley Jackson.
I first came across Shirley Jackson when I read The Lottery, a brilliantly rendered and very unsettling short story about lynch-mob mentality. I then read Jackson’s We Have Always lived in The Castle, which was the last novel Jackson wrote before she died. We Have Always Lived in The Castle is incredibly suspenseful, full of weird and wonderful characters and strange and gripping and totally unpredictable. The first paragraph has to be one of the best first paragraphs of a book ever:
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
Joyce Carol Oates once said that Shirley Jackson was “quirkily original”. I agree. I love the unexpected in a story and Shirley Jackson’s stories never disappoint. Has my writing been influenced by her? I’m not sure, but, certainly, I find her writing inspiring. I’ll be discussing this and much more on the 26th and am really looking forward to it.
If you like reading books and live in or around North Ayrshire, do check the programme out – it will be an excellent day and great value
And, finally, if you had to pick a favourite book of all time, what would it be?
Saturday 26th October, 2013: 9.30am to 3.30pm.
“The seventh North Ayrshire Libraries Readers’ Day is back in it the usual venue, the newly-refurbished Greenwood Conference Centre, so you are guaranteed good food and a huge car park!”
Download the Readers’ Day information leaflet here (Word, 2.3Mb). This includes an application form and lots more information on what is sure to be a great day.