I’m a volunteer in Victoria Library’s Under 5s session on Wednesday mornings, but my real passion is literature for older children, the sort of stuff you find in our Zone section. I recently put together a ‘Customer Choice’ display at the library, showcasing my favourite books and DVDs.
Scott Westerfeld writes chilling dystopian sci fi, Suzanne Collins’s excellent Hunger Games trilogy has just been made into a movie, Michelle Paver has written a series of kids books set in the stone age, as well as a great ghost story for adults called ‘Dark Matter’.
I’ve been so busy trying to keep up with this genre that I don’t get to read much adult fiction any more – not that I miss it – so a lot of my adult recommendations were books I’ve read in the past that have really stuck in my memory.
Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin still haunts me, and I can’t get enough Margaret Atwood and Peter Ackroyd. My favourite poet is Philip Larkin and I challenge anyone to forget Aubade once they’ve read it – which, if you’re of a sensitive nature, I advise against…
I picked a film called Submarine, a wonderfully bleak picture of growing up in the eighties which manages to be funny and moving and wistful, and had me yearning to go back there.
My own adolescence – and I’m sure this is fairly common – remains the most vivid part of my life: that wonderful teetering on the brink when you live so much more intensely than at any other time. I suppose that’s why I chose to write for teenagers myself. My book ‘The Hanged Man Rises’ is a Victorian supernatural thriller set just down the road from the library in an area of Westminster then known as The Devil’s Acre because of its appalling living conditions, overcrowding, filth and crime. It’s due to be published by Simon and Schuster in 2013 and, who knows, maybe it will end up as someone else’s book choice one day!