Surrey libraries event in Guildford for World Book Night – authors share literary inspirations
A celebration of books and reading, World Book Night takes place on Monday April 23 – and, in Surrey, many of our county's best known writers will be heading to Guildford for a special 'meet the author' evening
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2012
A celebration of books and reading, World Book Night takes place on Monday April 23 – and, in Surrey, many of our county’s best known writers will be heading to Guildford for a special ‘meet the author’ evening. Here, Matthew Williams speaks to some of those attending to find out about their own literary inspirations
Alan Hammond, Leatherhead
My career in one sentence…I was, for many years, a legal executive, until, about ten years ago, I threw away my law books and joined my wife Eileen in her charity consultancy practice.
People know me best for…My first book, All’s Fair in Love and Law, which came out in June 2011. It’s a collection of stories centring on the fictitious rural firm of solicitors, Dufty Dufty Popple & Dunn.
At the moment, I’m working on… Firstly, a follow-up to All’s Fair in Love and Law and, secondly, a crime novel with an intriguing difference.
The book I’m reading is…Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s a lesson in characterisation and I admire Ishiguro’s ability to convey emotion without gushing sentiment.
- 1 Win the full range of Bashall Spirits Gins
- 2 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 3 6 waterfall walks in Derbyshire and the Peak District
- 4 Win a G&H Spirits gin set with Sussex Life
- 5 Seven Falls, Tintwistle - a hidden gem in the Peak District
- 6 12 beautiful waterfalls in Yorkshire
- 7 20 of the best restaurants in Hertfordshire
- 8 Win a three nights stay at Nydsley Hall in Pateley Bridge
- 9 Afternoon tea in Kent: 15 of the best tearooms
- 10 7 great walks near Kirkby Lonsdale
My favourite book of all time is…The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Anyone interested in how real people react to real problems and how they overcome them against all the odds should read it.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…The encouragement and support of privately-owned bookshops – long may they continue!
Almas Khan, Epsom
My career in one sentence…Staccato, with added chaos.
People know me best for…Poppadom Preach, which sees a young girl Dilly attempt to be an individual against a backdrop of casual 1970s racism, tough schools and her colourful working class neighbourhood.
At the moment, I’m working on…A tale of love, betrayal, hypocrisy and hatred. Its working title is The Birth of Pixie Brown.
The book I’m reading is…Fathers and Sons by Richard Madeley. The TV presenter looks back at his own family to illustrate how far British men’s relationships with their sons have moved.
My favourite book of all time is…Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…Box Hill on a breezy day. If I’m ever stuck for ideas, a climb to the top is enough for thoughts to come flooding into my mind as quickly as the clouds scurry overhead.
Andrew Robertshaw, Charlwood
My career in one sentence…From teacher to the Big Screen – I’m a regular contributor to television’s Time Team and The Trench Detectives.
People know me best for…As a historian of the Great War. I acted as a military consultant for Steven Spielberg’s feature film, War Horse.
At the moment, I’m working on…A book about trench warfare based on one in my back garden.
The book I’m reading is…The Life of Brigadier Peter Young: Commando to Captain-General by Alison Michelli.
My favourite book of all time is…Bevis: The Story of a Boy by Richard Jefferies, which was written in 1882 and is a popular book about childhood.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…The countryside, proximity to museums and archives and the ability to be on the Somme in a few hours.
Anne Berry, Bookham
My career in one sentence…Like the grand old Duke of York, as an author, when I am up, I am up, and when I am down, I am down, but alas, I am seldom halfway up, neither up nor down!
People know me best for…People would know me best for my first novel, The Hungry Ghosts, short-listed for the Commonwealth Prize, and my second novel, The Water Children.
At the moment, I’m working on…My fourth novel about a family who holiday annually in an ancient farmhouse surrounded by the fields and woods of South West France. Surrey creeps in here as well. What can I say? I’m a Surrey woman at heart.
The book I’m reading is…The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. Familiar with the story, saw the televised production, but there is nothing to touch the real thing. Loving this many layered journey full of the ironies of political life and the tragedy of human love.
My favourite book of all time is…A bit of a cheat… The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Still, it’s good enough for Desert Island Discs!
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…The beautiful local landscape. My third novel, The Adoption, is to be published in June, by Ebury Books, Random House, and so much of the story was inspired by the glorious landscape I am lucky enough to live in.
Daniel Grant, Godalming
My career in one sentence…I’m a producer for BBC News.
People know me best for…My first novel, Sex Lessons – a frank but humorous tale about one man’s extra-curricular inactivity...
At the moment, I’m working on…My second novel – the first draft is almost complete.
The book I’m reading is…One Day by David Nicholls.
My favourite book of all time is…The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…Being surrounded by scenic countryside and having the beauty of the Surrey Hills on my doorstep. I’m lucky to be spoilt for choice with walks where I live, which never fail to inspire!
Felix Riley, Claygate
My career in one sentence… Comedy writer turned City worker turned entrepreneur turned novelist.
People know me best for…My thriller The Set-Up, which was first in the Mike Byrne series.
At the moment, I’m working on… The third in the series featuring Mike Byrne, a man with a past that has exploded back into his life.
The book I’m reading is… Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right by Thomas Frank.
My favourite book of all time is… The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is… Attending book clubs to talk with real readers instead of hearing it all through social media.
Geoff Saunders, Dorking
My career in one sentence…Rewarding, mostly working on high tech engineering projects all over the world.
People know me best for…Only slightly crazy ideas, which usually work. I also wrote Reports from Coastal Stations, which features journeys to the weather stations reported on the BBC Shipping Forecast, using only public transport and one tall ship.
At the moment, I’m working on…A pirate story for my grandchildren.
The book I’m reading is…The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss by Edmund de Waal. It tells the story of a remarkable family and a tumultuous century.
My favourite book of all time is…Difficult, but the one I come back to is Dubliners by James Joyce.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…The wooded Surrey Hills, village pubs and great transport services, with easy access to central London and then the wider world.
Meg Gardiner, Cobham
My career in one sentence…I escaped from the practice of law to a life of writing crime novels.
People know me best for…My novel China Lake, which won an Edgar Award.
At the moment, I’m working on…My tenth thriller.
The book I’m reading is…Satori by Don Winslow, a prequel to the classic espionage thriller Shibumi. It’s about the spy game in early Cold War-era Asia. It’s full of double-crosses and narrow escapes, and immerses the reader in 1950s Japan, China, and Vietnam. I savoured every moment.
My favourite book of all time is…The Stand by Stephen King has long been one of my favourite books. It’s about an apocalyptic plague, and it’s a thrilling story about selfless courage, the hunger for life and the nobility of striving for near-impossible goals, even at high cost.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…Walking on the beautiful Downs while I work out stories in my imagination.
Julia Williams, Epsom
My career in one sentence…I’m a poacher turned gamekeeper; I used to edit books and now I write them.
People know me best for…My novel, Last Christmas, which was published in 2009.
At the moment, I’m working on… A follow-up, This Christmas.
The book I’m reading is…The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, an old favourite from my childhood.
My favourite book of all time is…To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…The countryside, especially the Downs, which have inspired scenes in my second novel, Strictly Love, and were a huge source of inspiration for my latest novel, The Summer Season. I count myself lucky to live in a town, but near enough to greenery to feel quite rural.
Shaun Attwood, Guildford
My career in one sentence…An author and public speaker, documenting his return to society after serving time.
People know me best for…Hard Time, which is the true story of how I survived jail in Arizona, which has the highest death rate in America, for almost six years.
At the moment, I’m working on…Party Time, the prequel to Hard Time, which is expected to be published in late 2012 in the UK, and 2013 in the US. It is the story of everything that led up to a SWAT team smashing my door down.
The book I’m reading is…1Q84 by Murakami.
My favourite book of all time is…War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – beyond the brilliant plot and descriptions, it made me question human existence and helped change my perception of reality.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…I’m inspired by the easy access I have to the literary community in London, while still enjoying an idyllic life outside the city in Guildford.
Pamela Evans, Oxshott
My career in one sentence…I have earned my living as a professional writer for the last 25 years, am published by Headline Publishing Group and have produced 28 novels.
People know me best for…My family sagas.
At the moment, I’m working on…Book 29!
The book I’m reading is…The Best of Times by Penny Vincenci.
My favourite book of all time is…Small Island by Andrea Levy, who was the winner of the 2004 Orange Prize for fiction.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…The beautiful countryside, towns with good facilities and then the easy access to London.
Louise Soraya Black, Walton-on-Thames
My career in one sentence…My first novel, Pomegranate Sky, won the Virginia Prize 2009 and was published in October 2010.
People know me best for…The above book, which is a love story set in contemporary Iran.
At the moment, I’m working on…My second novel.
The book I’m reading is…Snowdrops by AD Miller, which is a Moscow-set debut of corruption, decadence, greed and betrayal.
My favourite book of all time is…It’s difficult to choose, but I’ve always loved The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.
The most inspiring thing about being an author in Surrey is…The community support for and the interest in local authors.
Surrey libraries will be marking World Book Night with a special event at Guildford Library, 77 North Street, Guildford GU1 4AL on Monday April 23 from 7.30pm to midnight. Authors from all over Surrey, including the 12 highlighted here, will be attending and you can join them for informal chats in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. For more information about this special evening, call 01483 543599.
Further festivities: literary dates for your 2012 diary:
Surrey Heath Literary Festival from Friday May 18 to Sunday May 20: www.literaryfestival.wordpress.com. Conan Doyle Weekend in Haslemere from Friday June 15 to Sunday June 17: @ConanDoyleWeek on twitter Guildford Book Festival from Thursday October 18 to Saturday October 27: www.guildfordbookfestival.co.uk. Richmond upon Thames Literature Festival on various dates throughout November: www.richmondliterature.com.