Where’s your bookcase located and what does it look like?
In my sitting room, six shelves either side of a dirty big gutted fireplace that would also be filled with books if soot didn’t come down it at regular intervals. Oh and anywhere else in the house where shelves will fit. Under the stairs. And in the kitchen.
What kind of books will definitely not be found in your bookcase?
Cook books, with the exception of the new Hannibal book. Anything else goes, including graphic novels, travel guides, TV tie-ins, cautionary verse, books I’ve had since I was a kid and multiple copies of favourite books that I had to have because they looked so beautiful/weird/scary.
What author have you discovered and loved recently?
Matthew Frank. You can see his debut, If I Should Die next to the head of George VI on the first shelf there. It’s the start of a new police series and his hero, Joe Stark, is my favourite new hero since Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg.
Where is your favourite place to read?
In the bath. It’s why I daren’t have an e-reader.
Can books change lives? If so, which one changed yours?
Yes, they can. And should. Not reading books breeds bigots, and bores. I’ve known a few in my time. The best books make you ask questions about everything. We should all ask more questions.
Lolita changed my life. First of all, I fell in love with its conceit and slyness, and its brilliance. Later I learnt how many people had a bad opinion of it (especially those who’d never read it) and how many arguments you could get into when you defended its brilliance—and that made me realise how powerful books can be.
What’s the book you’d choose as your Desert Island read?
The Collected Short Stories of Saki. So many gems, like Sredni Vashtar (‘Hope had crept by inches into his heart’) and I’d be happy stuck on a desert island with Clovis and Reginald and co.
What book did you give last as a present and to whom?
The Fall of Man in Wilmslow to my mother who lives there. It’s the town where I was born, just south of Manchester. We agreed how funny it was seeing a novel with ‘Wilmslow’ in the title. It’s a fictional account of the police investigation into Alan Turing’s death, by Swedish writer, David Lagercrantz.
What are you reading now?
The Two Faces of January by Patricia Highsmith. I’m swotting for my panel at Harrogate on 19 July, with Peter James, Martin Edwards, Peter Swanson and Andrew Taylor. It was one of the few Highsmiths I hadn’t read before. I’m loving it. Even by her standards it’s stupendously sleazy.
What are your top ten books?
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
- Sex Crimes, Jenefer Shute
- These Old Shades, Georgette Heyer
- Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
- Psmith in the City, P.G. Wodehouse
- The Collector, John Fowles
- The Napoleon of Notting Hill, G.K. Chesterton
- Innocent Blood, PD James
- Ripley’s Game, Patricia Highsmith
- Red Dragon, Thomas Harris
What’s your most treasured book on your bookcase?
An illustrated first edition of Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm. Especially treasured since I discovered that it’s one of Val McDermid’s favourite books, too.
Sarah’s Someone Else’s Skin has been shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.
To find out more on the 2015 Award Click Here.