To celebrate the publication of her first book, thriller Til the Dust Settles, author Pat Young joins me to tells us about some of her favourite books in A Life in Books.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I grew up in the south west of Scotland where I still live, sometimes. The other extreme, in so many ways, is the south west of France, where I like to go in search of sunlight. However, I must say I find it easier to be productive during the long dark months of a Scottish winter. From bleak November to blustery wet March, it makes sense to sit inside writing. Bit harder when the sun’s shining.
I never expected to be a writer. Then I found a discarded book with a wad of cash and a letter tucked in the flyleaf. ‘What if something awful happened to the owner of this book?’ I thought, and I was off. I used to think my constant ‘what iffing’ was a curse as I fretted about my children. Now I regard it as a blessing. ‘What if’ is the start of a story.
I tried to find someone to write the story that I could see in my head. I knew nothing about writing. I did know a thing or two about books however. Having studied English, French and German at uni, I’d read a fair few! And so, I gave it a go. There was no turning back, although I had other plans, none of which included sitting at a desk from daybreak till dusk. But some days I just have to. Because there’s a story to be told. And when it’s done, I go out to play. On zip-wires and abseil ropes, or just the tennis court.
Sometimes learning, hard work and persistence pay off. Although I was just another pebble on a stony beach, Betsy Reavley of Bloodhound Books found me. I’m delighted to say that my debut novel, Till the Dust Settles, a psychological thriller, will be available from late July.
1. What was you favourite book from childhood?
I’ve always had a hyperactive imagination. As a child I devoured books. Depending on what I was reading, usually under the bedcovers, I’d believe I was Heidi. Or that I owned magical ballet shoes, or led secret clubs at boarding school. A far cry from my life in a small village on the Ayrshire coalfields.
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield is my favourite, I think. And I loved The Borrowers.
2. What type of books did you read as a teenager?
I was really into Catherine Cookson and in fact, I answered the literature question in my O Level English exam on a Catherine Cookson novel.
I adored The Catcher in the Rye.
3. When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?
By sixth form my tastes had matured and I loved DH Lawrence. Sons and Lovers probably was, and still is, my favourite.
4. What is your favourite classic book?
The Great Gatsby
I re-read it again quite recently and was shocked by two things 1 how short it was and 2 how sad a character Gatsby is. Between the first and second reading many years later, I saw the movie. Robert Redford will always be my Gatsby.
5. What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?
I’ve read countless books in that time and I’m ashamed to say, I’m not very good at remembering them all. I really enjoyed The Reader on the 9.27 but I was moved to tears by one whose name I’ve forgotten (!) about a man who has to learn a number of things before he dies by meeting folk in his life and seeing his life-changing events from their point of view. Maybe you’ll get a response from someone with a better memory than mine who can identify the title for us?
6. What book do you think you should read but never get round to?
Gone with the Wind – I remember it on my Gran’s bookshelf a lifetime ago. Fast forward two generations and my daughter adored the film so much we watched it over and over again. Stef has read it, but I’ve never got round to it. Yet.
7. What do you consider to be your favourite book?
That is the hardest question of all ten. I have no idea.
I’m very fickle and often say, that’s my favourite book … till I find another and fall in love with it. (May I say, in case my husband reads this, that the previous comment applies only to books.)
8. Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?
At university, faced with piles of books that I absolutely had to read, I made myself a promise. When I graduated, I swore I’d never force myself to read another book I didn’t like. I’ve stuck to that pledge.
Nowadays I give up on a book if I don’t care what happens to the main character. The world is full of so many wonderful books, it’s a shame to waste a moment’s reading time.
9. If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with you?
That would be, for me, such a nightmare scenario, I cannot imagine taking my eyes off the horizon or the creepy crawlies long enough to read a word. I’d much rather have a pair of flippers and a snorkel. But if you insist, I’ll go for the poetry of Robert Burns, a Kilmarnock Edition that I was given by an old Uncle at age fifteen and The Bible. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that it’s another book I should read but never get round to.
10. Kindle or Book?
Can I say both, please? Kindle has made it so easy for readers to access books which is great for authors. I love mine. But a paperback has a tactile quality that I find hard to resist.
Pat’s book is available to buy from today.