My friend and fellow author Helen Morgan (whose book Blue Mauritius I am currently reading and greatly enjoying) has invited readers of her blog to respond to the same book meme she recently completed for Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper. So I thought I’d have a go at it and invite my readers to do likewise. I agree with Helen’s approach–to write down the first thing that comes to mind–so here goes.
What is the book that changed your life?
Part family history, part tribute to her daughter, Paula by Isabel Allende was encouraging for me as a writer. I had read and enjoyed several of Allende’s novels and was fascinated to learn how she drew on events in her life as inspiration for her fiction. More than that, Allende hadn’t started writing until she was in her 40s. I must have been 29 or 30 when I read Paula, and it made me feel I still had time to follow that dream. As it turned out, my first novel Behind the Night Bazaar was published the same year I turned 40.
What is the last book you didn’t bother finishing?
While I’m reluctant to name the books that fall into this category recently out of loyalty to my fellow authors–it’s all very well for Helen to nominate a Booker Prize winner, whose sales are unlikely to be affected–I admit that I didn’t persevere with Pictures of Us by Todd Alexander. (Serves him right for not buying my book when I bought his after we both appeared on the same writers’ panel–bad form, Todd!).
What is the best book you were forced to read at school?
We got to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell during our final year at secondary school in 1984. I still think it was cool to have such edgy, political fiction on our compulsory reading list.
[Though Helen and I went to the same school, we weren’t inspired by the same books. I don’t even remember The Dark is Rising].
What is the best movie adaptation of a book?
In cases where I’ve both read the book and seen the movie, I’d have to say Gone with the Wind is an amazing achievement in terms of movie adaptation of a book. Likewise, The Year of Living Dangerously, one of my all-time favourite films. The worst adaptation is The English Patient, which turned a brilliant book about racism into an unconvincing love story in exotic locations.
Over to you…