Today I am delighted to have a guest post from Irish author Sinead O'Hart. Sinead's debut novel Eye of the North is published by Alfred A Knopf in the U.S. It is aimed at Middle Grade readers and is currently enjoying some rave reviews on amazon and goodreads. The novel tells the story of Emmeline, when her scientist parents mysteriously disappear she must take ship to a safe house in Paris. On board she befriends a scruffy orphan boy; Thing but before she reaches safety Emmeline is kidnapped by Dr Bauer and Things sets off to rescue his new found friend. It's a fantasy adventure which will appeal to fans of Shane Hegarty, Dave Rudden and E.R. Murray
The Books That Made Me
THE CHILDCRAFT LIBRARY/WORLD BOOK: When my brother and I were kids, back in the distant 1980s, our parents invested in the best encyclopedias they could afford. I loved them, particularly the sturdy, colourful Childcraft books; some of the illustrations in my most-read volumes remain bright in my memory to this day. I first encountered Beowulf and Gawain and the Kalevala here, along with the work of Snorri Sturluson - this probably lay behind my decision to study medieval literature at university, many years later, as well as shaping the kind of stories I love to read and write.
ELIDOR, by Alan Garner: My older cousin gave me her copy of Elidor when I was about eight, and it was the first book I remember reading which pinned me to the pages and refused to let me go. It settled into a corner of my mind and has lived there ever since. Feeding into my budding love for mythology, folklore and medieval-ish things, this is a book I still read at least once a year, and which I recommend to everyone!
THE LITTLE PRINCE, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: The book which inspired me to create my first story (a sequel, complete with my own illustrations, which is probably best lost in the murk of my childhood), this beautiful, meditative story is one which helped to form my way of thinking about love, words and the world. It will always be precious.
A WRINKLE IN TIME, by Madeleine l'Engle: I recently re-read this (along with another childhood love, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster) and, while it hasn't aged very well in some respects, in others it reminded me why it was, and is, such a pivotal book. It showed me the power of a strong heroine, the breadth and depth of a timeless story, and opened my mind to science-fiction and speculative fiction. I will always go back to it for inspiration, and to relive the wonder I felt when reading it for the first time. (It's also the first book I remember buying for myself, with my own money, and it cost the grand sum of three pounds ninety-nine pence!)
THE HOUNDS OF THE MORRIGAN, by Pat O'Shea: This was a present from my father when I was eleven, and there aren't enough words to describe how profoundly it shaped me, both as a reader and a writer. Its vivid imagery, perfectly realised characters and dialogue - which are so authentically Irish, yet somehow universal, too - and fantastic use of mythology, folklore and history, not to mention its absurd hilarity, meant it became one of the foundations of my mind.
WYRD SISTERS, by Terry Pratchett: I could choose any (or all) the Discworld novels here, but I mention this one because it was the first one I read. I saw its amazing cover art, by Josh Kirby, some time in the late 80s, and made my dad buy it for me despite his misgivings. I read it, cover to cover, and didn't understand a word - but I knew I liked it, and that one day I would understand, so I put it away until I grew up a bit. I read it again when I was older and loved it so much I collected everything Sir Pterry wrote, and he became my biggest literary influence.