Ever been influenced by a book? I have, many times, although I haven’t always realised its full impact until much later. Today, CAROLINE ENGLAND, author of dark domestic noir, shares with me the books that have changed her life…
Born Yorkshire lass, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer and instigated her jottings when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. In addition to the publication of her short story collection, Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses by ACHUKAbooks, Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary publications and anthologies. She was shortlisted for the Impress Prize 2015, in the Pulp Idol 2016 finals and long listed for the UK Novel Writing Competition 2017.
Her debut novel was Beneath the Skin. Her second novel, My Husband’s Lies, was published on 17 May 2018.
BOOKS THAT HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE
Caroline says: There are many books I have LOVED, but books that have changed my life is a more tricky question, you devil! The ones that immediately spring to mind are from my teenage years:
1. The Stud by Jackie Collins.
This might seem a surprising choice but it did change my life! At school I had lent it to a friend, Jo, and the games mistress confiscated it when Jo and another pal were skiving a swimming lesson. Reading about sex was akin to possessing Class A drugs! A SWAT team (or the boarding school equivalent) descended and dormitory lockers throughout the whole school were searched for similar shameful reading matter. As you can imagine, I wasn’t a popular girl for some time (the moral of this tale is never to write your name in the front of a book!). To ingratiate myself with the English teacher, I made more of an effort in the classroom and I discovered ‘the more one puts in, the more one gets out’ was very true!
2. Switch Bitch by Roald Dahl.
See above! My copy was confiscated at the same time as The Stud. Oh no! Sex again! But these tales with their delicious spiteful twists were just perfect. There’s no doubt the dark twisty stories have influenced my writing, particularly my own short story collection.
3. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.
This is the book we were studying when I tried to become teacher’s pet. I’m looking at my copy now with my pencilled annotations. I still find it astonishing that a book published in 1874 had such a feminist heroine. Bathsheba is ambitious, independent, headstrong, determined, and free-spirited. From the very beginning, she makes it known that she could never become any man’s property. I know things go somewhat awry, but go Bathsheba!
4. The Hawk in the Rain by Ted Hughes.
One of my favourite poets, not lessened by the fact that I saw him perform ‘live’ when I was at school. I can clearly remembering him explaining the background to The Thought-Fox and then reading it in that deep, yet soft Yorkshire timbre. I was mesmerised! I don’t think I would have written short stories, then novels, had I not begun my jottings by writing poetry.
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I moved schools for sixth form and we studied this for A Level. My teacher, John Billington, was just brilliant. Not only was he a great teacher, he was a buddhist with charismatic mystique. We all wanted to listen to his peals of wisdom and learn. I was so honoured that he read my debut Beneath the Skin and wrote: “I admired the sheer confidence of your style and the assurance of your dialogue — very impressive — as well as the dexterity of your complex plotting. And your insight into character is both astute and alarming! It is decades since I heard my mother say to my father “I can read you like a book!” when she discovered some minor hidden and innocuous secret (smuggling in a second-hand book usually), and I remember how as a child the possibility that women might have some X-ray capacity to read the minds of mere two-dimensional males haunted me. What on earth was Caroline thinking as she sat in my A level class! Dread to think.”
About Caroline’s book, MY HUSBAND’S LIES
Do you really know your friends?
On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.
As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think.
And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.
DISCOVER MORE ABOUT CAROLINE