While growing up my childhood favourites included Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, ‘In the Night Kitchen’ and ‘Outside Over There’. I adored the way Sendak painted such a vivid fantasy world – one I could truly escape into, and he did so with just a few choice words and clever illustrations. In ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, I particularly loved the way Max’s bedroom transformed into a wild forest; I used to lie awake at night and imagine my own bedroom undergoing the very same process – I liked the way I could explore strange new worlds, yet still have the security of my bed to retreat to whenever I needed. ‘Outside Over There’ portrayed an almost dream-like, fantastical world with ephemeral landscapes, goblins and an ice baby. ‘In the Night Kitchen’ had that same dream-like quality but was a much more light-hearted fun romp through colossal bowls of dough, gargantuan bottles of milk and Herculean chefs that looked like Oliver Hardy. These stories fuelled my imagination and inspired me to write my own. I also loved magic, paranormal and ghost stories; having experienced the death of loved ones and contemporaries at an early age, I hence forth held a fascination with the after-life. Frank. L. Baum’s ‘Oz’ stories were also influential and captivated my imagination.
In my teens, I became a huge lover of poetry and classic literature – from Tennyson (‘The Lady of Shalott’ is my all-time favourite), Byron, Shelley, Clare, Poe and Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (I have always been a romantic) and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (a story about the fae – what is there not to love?!). I particularly lapped up anything romantic or with a paranormal slant (which there is plenty of in Edgar Allen Poe’s strange and macabre tales!). I started investing a lot more time in my own writing at this point, mainly as an outlet to escape the pressures of exams and the teen years in general. I wrote mountains of poetry, much about heartache but some uplifting too. My stories became lengthier at this time, with more involved plots and three dimensional characters.
From my teens to the present day, the Young Adult Fantasy genre remains my favourite. I love Libba Bray’s ‘Gemma Doyle’ trilogy – the rich descriptions and atmosphere are fantastic; she creates a truly immersive, chimerical world with interesting, believable, though sometimes rather sinister characters. Lesley Livingston’s ‘Wondrous Strange’ trilogy tells a colourful, interesting story set between the fae and human worlds, yet with relatable ‘real’ characters. And Kelly is a tremendously likeable female protagonist, as is her gorgeous love interest, Sonny. Aprilynne Pike’s ‘Wings’ series takes a different stance on what the fae are – in this instance, plant not animal. Katie. M. John’s ‘Knight’ trilogy is a fun Arthurian paranormal adventure. Alyson Noel’s ‘Immortals’ is fast and exciting with beautifully portrayed extraordinary realities where thought can literally shape reality and manifest our very heart’s desires. ‘Arise’ (and its sequel) by Tara Hudson is a wonderful exploration of existence between life and death, as is ‘Dead Beautiful’ by Yvonne Woon. I was a big fan of Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ series long before it gained the cult following it has today; the lure of eternal youth and perfect health is very appealing, as is spending an eternity with the perfect man! I will admit to being a big Harry Potter fan too – the magical world created by J. K. Rowling is truly spell-binding! There are many other authors whose work I enjoy immensely, though I think it is wise to draw to a close here!