This evening author Nicola Cassidy pops over to Bookliterati Book Reviews to discuss A Life in Books.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Nicola Cassidy, I’m a writer and blogger and launch my debut historical fiction novel December Girl with Bombshell Books this autumn. I’m a Mum to two small children and writing keeps me sane – it is the little part of the day for myself and feels far more productive than housework! I work in marketing and I’ve dreamed of publishing a book since I was a child. My novel is set in late 19th century Ireland and London and follows the life of Molly Thomas who was evicted and finds herself pregnant and turning to prostitution. Parts of the story are based on true events.
What was your favourite book from childhood?
I read lots of book as a child, I was an early reader, although my best friend had to convince me to move beyond picture books at a certain point – I thought books with just words looked very boring! I loved The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Under the Hawthorn Tree, a book set in the Irish famine by Marita Conlon McKenna. I also adored Roald Dahl, The Witches, was my favourite of his.
What type of books did you read as a teenager?
I loved anything by Jude Blume, as she could communicate and reach out to teenagers in a very special way. I liked historical fiction and read lots of Catherine Cookson – I enjoyed learning that she had been rejected many times before being published. I discovered Helen Forrester in my teens too; she wrote wonderful biographical accounts of her impoverished childhood in 1930s Liverpool. I also went through a ‘anything set in world war 2’ period.
When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?
We were lucky with our curriculum. To Kill A Mockingbird was on our junior cycle and I thought it was fabulous. On our senior cycle we read Doris Lessing – The Grass is Singing and it was wonderful too. We also studied an Irish novel called December Bride and I think this probably influenced in some way, the title of my own upcoming book.
What is your favourite classic book?
Does the Great Gatsby count? That’s one of my all time favourites. I also enjoyed Gulliver’s Travels and The Secret Garden. I should read more classics.
What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?
I’ve really only gotten back into reading in recent years – I’m annoyed at myself for falling off the reading bandwagon – but I went through a long phase, before I became involved with writing and publishing again in my 30s of not being able to find books I liked. I’m a bit fussy, as I’m not a big fan of crime or romance – I generally prefer literary works. I’ve just finished Jo Baker’s latest A Country Road, A Tree and that would certainly be one of the best books I’ve read in the past five years. It’s stunning. I loved the Miniaturist by Jessie Burton too. Another book I couldn’t put down was Red Dirt, by EM Reapy, an Irish author. It’s so lovely to find a book that you can’t wait to go to bed to read at night.
What book to you think you should read but never get round to?
Oh I have a library full. I get sent books for review and I’m a pretty slow reader, so there’s always a pile of books that I feel I SHOULD be reading. I would like to finish Ulysses though – just to say I did it! I haven’t moved off page 73 in about a year.
What do you consider to be your favourite book ?
I think it would be Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor. It has so much depth to it. I met him at a literary festival recently and got him to sign it – he was highly impressed at how battered it looked. I love his writing style.
Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?
In recent times I have forced myself to finish everything I start – simply because I hate to leave something unread. (Ulysses will be seen to!) Sometimes if I’m not enjoying a book I will speed read it – by scanning the pages and quickly turning towards the end – that way, I feel I’ve read it, but not invested in it. There are two books I’ve done that with recently but I wouldn’t like to say which ones as the author community is small! I’ve come to learn though, that everyone has their own likes and dislikes, some books I rave about, others really disliked, and books they’ve recommended completely fall flat for me. It’s very subjective. That’s why there are so many books!
What are you reading now?
I’m reading a review copy of The Fourth Monkey that I was sent ages ago. It’s quite good so far.
Kindle or Book?
Both. But usually paperbacks. My Kindle got damaged recently and I have to get a new one. I’ve also been reading books on my phone. (I spend half my life on it anyway!)
You can follow Nicola on Facebook and on Twitter@LadyNicci
Her debut novel The December Girl is available to buy now.