In this occasional series, members of Rugby Cafe Writers discuss the books which have influenced them. Fran Neatherway grew up in a small village in the middle of Sussex. She studied History at the University of York and put her degree to good use by working in IT. Reading is an obsession – she reads six or seven books a week. Her favourites are crime, fantasy and science fiction. Fran has been writing for thirty-odd years, short stories at first. She has attended several writing classes and has a certificate in Creative Writing from Warwick University. She has completed three children’s novels, as yet unpublished, and is working on the first draft of an adult novel. Fran has red hair and lives in Rugby with her husband and no cats.
The book I am currently reading
I have just finished reading Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett. I have been reading my way through his Discworld novels in a slightly random sequence.
My earliest reading memory
My earliest reading memory is being told I could only read for 10 minutes a day after my third squint correcting operation. I was six years old and even then I was an avid reader. It was awful. Actual books – I can’t remember, probably Famous Five or Swallows and Amazons or Anne of Green Gables.
My comfort reading during lockdown
I’ve been reading through whole series of novels: Crime (Dorothy L. Sayers, Kathy Reichs, Ian Rankin, Robert Crais, Michael Connelly); Fantasy (Philip Jose Famer; Darynda Jones, Chloe Neill; Terry Pratchett); I also read all of Madalyn Morgan’s Dudley Sisters books – spy/historical. Also various others. I read a lot, including some favourite children’s books.
The book that changed my life
I can’t pin that down to only one book. I’ll just say whatever book I read first on my own.
The book I wish I’d written
Again too many to mention. I’ll say lots! On reconsideration after answering the next question, I wish I’d written Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. The wit, the world creation, the use of words, the characters, the plots, everything really.
My favourite series of books
That depends on the genre.
Urban fantasy: Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.
Fantasy: Deverry series by Katharine Kerr.
Fantasy/Humour: Terry Pratchett.
Crime: again too many to pin it down to just one, but if I have to, Val McDermid’s Tony Hill series and her Karen Pirie series.
Non-genre fiction: John Irving. Not a series but he is a wonderful writer.
Spies: the Slow Horses series by Mick Herron. They’re astounding.
So, it’s a toss-up between Terry Pratchett and Mick Herron, depending on my mood.
The book I couldn’t finish
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Two chapters in and I fell asleep. Luckily it was a library book. I thought about buying it as an insomnia remedy! There are others, but that one was supposed to be so good and I was so bored.
The book that made me laugh
The book that made me cry
Terry Pratchett’s final Discworld book, The Shepherd’s Crown. I cried all the way through.
The most beautiful or treasured book
Probably my late mother’s Anne of Green Gables books, published in the 1930s.
The book I think is overrated
That would have to be We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
The book I would give as a gift
Slow Horses by Mick Herron. Because it’s so good.
The book I would turn to during winter
It doesn’t matter to me what time of year it is, I just read. It’s an addiction!