Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Favourite Books

My favourite books (discounting some of the classics) are by authors who (a) write a good story, (b) create strong believable characters and (c) research their setting or hisorical background thoroughly.

They include the novels by Penny Vincenzi, especially the Spoils of Time trilogy (No Angel, Something Dangerous and Into Temptation), although I could include any of the blockbusters by Ms Vincenzi (and I can name-drop here, as she lives just across the road from a friend of mine, in a leafy Victorian avenue in Wimbledon, and I met her one morning when she was returning from a walk with her dogs on Wimbledon Common!)

Next is The Sunne in Spendour by Sharon Kay Penman, by far and away the best novel I have ever read about Richard III and the 15th century Wars of the Roses. The amount of historical research Sharon does for her novels is phenomenal and is one of the reasons I would hesitate to write a historical novel, even though I’m an historian by profession and fairly knowledgeable about the 15th century. But it would take me years to do that kind of research!

I'd also include John Jakes’ Civil War books (and also his Kent Family chronicles) and Winston Grahame’s Poldark series, all soundly researched and all with wonderful characters. .

If I could write like any of these authors, I’d be more than happy. And, for me, reading books like these are a more valuable lesson in ‘how to write’ than any or all of the writing advice books and articles!


  1. I'd give anything (except my granddaughters) to write like Bertrice Small!

  2. No need to wish you wrote like someone else, Paula.

    I enjoy your writing!

  3. Thanks, Toni! Have to confess I don't know anything about Bertrice Small, Ana.

  4. Hi,

    Blimey Paula,you'll be getting the sign of the cross (crossed fingers) from those whom write "how to write books".

    Hee hee, I'm going to zip my mouth on this because my public profile has been noted for posing awkward questions on category romance publisher blogs, and for suggesting the increase in aspiring authors says a lot about present output: not to mention increase in romance e-publishers!

  5. Bertrice Small writes amazingly vivid, blazingly hot historicals. An airport bookstore clerk recommended her to me years ago. Small is in her 80's, I believe, and still publishes a book a year.

  6. LOL, Francine, I decided years ago that if you were to read all the 'how to write' books and articles, you'd end up totally confused, since they all seem to say something different. Yes, there are various technical aspects you take onboard, but all the 'how to' books in the world can't actually teach you 'how to write' IMO.

  7. Ah, Poldark, I can remember discovering those novels when I was living n Cornwall. Around from where I live was Killigrew House and I walked by it every day. I really loved those books. Another Cornish book I love is Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier.
    I remember being inspired regarding Richard the Third by Josephine Tey's book "Daughter of Time" where she argues very persuasively that Richard the Third did not kill the princes in the tower. Very interesting posts this week - not that they aren't interesting all the time.

  8. I fell in love with Ross Poldark, Margaret! Don't remember seeing the guy who played him in anything else though.

    And Jospehine Tey's book about Richard III might have been the catalyst which started the whole Richard III - did he or didn't he question - but there have been so many much better books written since then which have explored the whole thing much more thoroughly than Tey did.

  9. But are they as entertaining? Or in fact so quirky. I have read tons of books on Richard but this one was my inspiration to begin my quest.

  10. I think Tey's book, being the first 'popular' (as opposed to dryly academic!) defence of Richard, inspired a lot of people in the 1950's. I first read it when I was about 13 or 14, and it was an excellent 'starter' that made me want to find out more. Remind me to tell you my theory next time we meet up!

  11. And of course you don't know mine either!