To help celebrate and publicise the #YAShot 2015, I am pleased to welcome one of the authors taking part in the event, Anna McKerrow, who has picked her choices for Chuck a Book.
#YAShot 2015 is a one-day Young Adult and Middle Grade ‘festival’ taking place in the centre of Uxbridge on Wednesday 28 October 2015 in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge.If you would like to buy a ticket for the event, then please click here.
The best book you have ever read.
This is a totally unanswerable question! I mean, REALLY. There are so many I’ve loved to distraction. Oryx and Crake/Year of the Flood/MADDADDAM by Margaret Atwood, but basically more or less everything she’s ever written. Possession by AS Byatt’s right up there. Lord of the Rings. The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham which is a kind of fictionalised life of Paul Gaughin; American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Loads more. Amazing short story collection called Corpus by Susan Irvine.
A book you loved from your childhood.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende which was far and away the one I read to tatters along with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. If anything, people remember the film which was pretty cheesy, but the book is fantastical and brilliant and full of sphinxes and a desert that turns into a forest by day and is patrolled by a mystical lion, and a castle in the shape of a hand, dotted with eyes. To this day I marvel at the philosophical depth it contains, which I was aware of at the time, but didn’t have the vocabulary to pinpoint: the notion that a fantasy world of fiction exists as its own place, but only humans have the power to make new things and give them new names. The hero, Bastian, a human child, is the only one that can give the Empress of Fantastica a new name, and without a new name she’ll die. It’s like she is a goddess, this creation that we made with our minds and now exists somewhere on the ether, but gods and goddesses get forgotten over time when their followers die out, unless they get revived with new names and new clothes. That’s also true of stories; we don’t write new stories; we rewrite the old ones and make them new again. The human power of creation. Everyone should read it!
A book that made you laugh
So many – I love funny books, but probably the funniest is The Henry Root Letters. It was a spoof letter-writing campaign by a mystery person pretending to be a really offensive character, Henry Root, a wet fish salesman, in the 1980s and contains all the genuine replies from the leading lights of that time. Only one response ever seems to suspect it’s a hoax. The rest are a mix of polite, enraged and confused. It wouldn’t work as well now because organisations have such standardised responses to everything, but then you could write a letter to the BBC or Jonathan Cape or Esther Rantzen – or the owner of a model agency asking for “a couple of goers” to come to an office party - and reasonably expect to get a personal reply.
I also really loved Russell Brand’s REVOLUTION. I cried with laughter – although I really liked it as a “book with a message” too. I went to see Russell Brand do stand up at the Soho Theatre years ago before he was so famous. There was an audience of about 60 people I think, and at one point a man got up to go to the loo. When he’d left the room Russell told us all to hide behind the curtain, so when he came back, there was no-one there. Then we jumped out at this guy, like, SURPRISE!!! when he came back. I love his Trews series.
A book you could not finish.
Oh, LOADS. I often don’t finish things because I’m easily bored. War and Peace. Most Russian literature I’ve read, actually. I had to study it at University and it was just SO depressing and dull. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev was particularly awful, though perhaps with the benefit of age I might like it more now. What else. Oh, for a different reason – Rose Madder by Stephen King, just because it was so horrible I couldn’t get past one really, really scary scene. I love Stephen King but there are definitely some of his that have scared the pants off me.
A book that made you swoon.
I’m not a massive romance fan, but I loved Cross Stitch, or Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. Super sexy, super swoony, super magical and loads of men in kilts fighting. YUMMY. I haven’t seen the TV version yet but in a way I don’t want to spoil the version of Jamie in my head. Oh and It’s So Easy by Duff McKagan, which is his autobiography, and really heartwarming, and I had a massive crush on him anyway and even more so after that, because – what a great guy.
A book you can’t wait to read.
I watched Wayward Pines on TV recently, a kind of thriller dystopia which initially looks like Twin Peaks but evolves into something way darker, and I loved it. Apparently it was a book originally so I really want to read that. Also I have Kim Gordon’s autobiography on my shelf and I know it’s going to be amazing.
A series you have read and loved.
As mentioned – Game of Thrones. Not a particularly unusual or original choice, but hey – there’s a reason so many people love it. I got recommended to read it to study the world building when I was rewriting CROW MOON and remember enjoying it for the first bit until Jaime Lannister pushes Bran out of the window, and then suddenly I was like OH MY GOD!!! And as we know, the series doesn’t disappoint. There’s plenty more AHA moments and things you weren’t expecting and just fabulous characters and the weaving of the world and the stories, and how they come together, it’s all just masterful.
A book that made you cry.
The Cider House Rules by John Irving – about an orphanage and the kindly but flawed doctor that runs it, makes me cry every time I read it when I come to the part when one of the children dies. Sorry, spoiler alert. It’s such a beautiful, beautiful, intelligent book too
Your guilty pleasure book.
I am, like you, Viv, a big fan of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg (worst name ever, bless her) which despite dealing with difficult themes of racism and violence against women managed to be uplifting and sad at the same time. The pace of the book is slow and comfortable like a hot day in the American South. Not a guilty pleasure so much as just a pleasure. I don’t think I have any guilty reads. If GIFs of Matthew McConaughey in True Detective was a book, that would be my current guilty pleasure.
A book that took you out of your comfort zone
Not because it was an unusual genre or anything, but Lost Riders by Elizabeth Laird which is a middle grade/early teen book about children being trafficked to be camel jockeys in the middle east. It was an amazing book and I really loved it but it was incredibly difficult to read because it was so sad, and what happened to those children was so horrific.
Remember you can see Anna McKerrow and a whole host of other fabulous YA and MG authors at the one day event in Uxbridge on the 28th October 2015.
Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow is published by Quercus
Danny is a fun-loving 16-year-old looking for a father figure and falling in love with a different girl every day. He certainly doesn't want to follow in his mum's witchy footsteps.
Just as his community is being threatened by gangs intent on finding a lucrative power source to sell to the world, Danny discovers he is stunningly powerful. And when he falls for Saba, a gorgeous but capricious girl sorceress, he thinks maybe the witch thing might not be such a bad idea...
But what cost will Danny pay as, with his community on the brink of war, he finds that love and sorcery are more dangerous than he ever imagined?
To find out more about Anna McKerrow: