Kathleen Jones has challenged me to list 7 books that have made a big impact on my writing life. Day 4 and this is where I get less certain in my choices and I feel less and less honest about saying, ‘This book had a great influence on my writing’ because unless we analyse the structure of every book, the influence is subtle. So book number 4 is simply a novel that I adore.

For me, the book sits in the same category as A Kestrel for a Knave. Like A Kestrel for a Knave, it is... a book where the film is as good as the film and offers a showstopping heartbreaking performance by a child actor. Like a Kestrel for a Knave, it’s a gritty read with a strong sense of realism.

It is a book about a Michael Lamb, a brother in a religious order (played by a young Liam Neeson) which runs a borstal, and what Lamb to abscond, taking a twelve-year-old, Owen Kane with him. For a very slim volume, it packs a punch. There is a reason for the novel’s length. The press portrays a kidnapping, but the reader sees it as an act of love and salvation, although we also see that it’s doomed. The entire way through, we know that the clock’ ticking; that time – already short - is running out.
And the final scene, oh, the final scene. You will weep.

I was so disappointed with Midwinter Break. Read this instead!

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Some of you may be aware that I launched a new book last week. (Yes, really!) One of my partners in crime was the author Rohan Quine. I was delighted to be asked to compere for his bookshop launch with Dan Holloway, and last week we teamed up again at the London Book Fair. You'll find links to video footage from both of these events in this interview. (I really do sound just like my mother.)…/virtual-book-club-rohan-quine-i…/

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Rohan Quine to Virtual Book Club, my interview series which gives authors the opportunity to pitch their novels to your book club. Rohan is an author of literary fiction with a touch of magical realism and a dusting of horror. He grew up in South London, spent a cou...