Welcome to The Bookshelf. Each week I feature an author or book blogger and talk about their bookshelf with them. It’s a light-hearted, book focused, Q&A.
This week I have Alys West who is a Fantasy & SteamPunk author, her work is very much inspired by folklore (so cool!). I’m definitely adding her books to my TBR and I hope you do too. Alys also teaches creative writing to people with mental health problems at an organisation in York. Now you all know how close anything like this is to my heart and I love that this opportunity is available to people in her area and that Alys is involved. If anybody reading is interested here is the website. I hope you enjoy Alys’ bookshelf.
What was the first book you remember having on your bookshelf?
Topsy & Tim’s Friday Book. I really loved that book. I remember when I was about 4 trying to convince my granny that I could read it. I couldn’t, I’d just had it read to me so many times that I knew the story more or less by heart.
What was the most recent book you added to the bookshelf?
The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett. One of my friends recommended The Lymond Chronicles to me as a great example of a series where each book has a satisfying ending but the whole series hangs together. As I’m in the process of writing a series called the Spellworker Chronicles and struggling a bit, I thought I’d give it a go. What she didn’t warn me about was that I’d become completely hooked! I can’t put The Disorderly Knights down and I’m so busy reading, I’ve not switched on the TV all week.
Which book have you most recently read from your bookshelf?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. My book club read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte which was pretty hard going, I have to say. After that I went back to Jane Eyre, one of my absolute favourites. I have a bit of an issue with its depiction of Bertha these days but it was lovely to revisit Jane and Rochester’s story.
Which books are you most looking forward to adding to your bookshelf?
Due to my current obsession with Dorothy Dunnett, I’ve got to say the rest of the Lymond Chronicles. I’m also very excited about the new Philip Pullman book. Few books have made me cry as much as the end of The Amber Spyglass, that Lyra and Will had been through so much and then were separated broke my heart. I really love Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart books, so I’m really looking forward to this new one. It’s been a very long wait!
What was the most recent addition to your writers bookshelf?
The Dirigible King’s Daughter which is steampunk romance set in Whitby and York. It’s about a very feisty young lady called Harriet who never lives home without her pistol. The best way to describe it is ‘Georgette Heyer goes steampunk’.
Which of your own books are you most proud of adding to the bookshelf?
That’d have to be Beltane, my first novel, because it was such a huge leap of faith to write it. I’d started a couple of novels previously but never finished them and then I had the idea for Beltane which involved a mysterious Green Man, Glastonbury, a healing retreat, druids and magic and even though it sounded a bit bonkers and not like anything I’d read, I knew I had to write it. I managed to get past chapter four which was where I’d always faltered previously and get it finished. I’m so glad I did because writing it has changed my life. I now teach creative writing for an amazing organisation called Converge which provides education for people with mental health issues, I’m doing a MA in creative writing and I work part-time at the day job so I’ve time to write. If I’d not kept going and finished Beltane then none of those things would have happened and I’m so glad that I believed in the story and kept faith with it until the book was finished.
Which book on your bookshelf do you most wish you had written?
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. I absolutely adore this book. It’s one of the first urban fantasy novels written in the 80s and it’s utterly brilliant. A lot of the tropes that we’re really familiar with in urban fantasy started here but the only thing that’s dated about it is the fashion (Eddi McCandy has some awesomely 80s outfits!) It’s got great characters, a war between the Fey taking place in Minneapolis and the kind of dialogue that reminds me of Joss Whedon. My favourite line is “‘Who writes your dialogue? Lewis Carol?’” It’s recently been reissued by Penguin as an ebook and paperback and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Is there a WIP we can look forward to adding to our bookshelves?
I’m currently working on my third novel, Storm Witch which is the second in the Spellworker Chronicles. It’s set in Orkney in Scotland and has lots of magic, suspense, romance and a sexy motorbike riding druid.
Can you share a picture of your bookshelf / favourite bookshelf?
Alys West’s Bookshelf
*These may not be all of the author’s publications but are the most recent. Check their links below for full details.
About Alys West
Alys West writes contemporary fantasy and steampunk. She started writing when she couldn’t find enough books to read that had all of the elements that she loved; fantasy, romance and suspense, although her love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have had something to do with it too. Writing steampunk was a natural development from her obsession with tea. How could she not write in a genre where the characters shared her belief that 90% of the world’s wrongs can be solved with a nice cup of tea? It also gave her a great excuse to spend her time looking at Victorian fashions and call it research.
Alys is doing a MA in Creative Writing at York St John University and teaches creative writing for Converge, an education project for people with mental health issues.
Many thanks for stopping by Alys, there are some great books in here I somehow had never heard of War For The Oaks so have popped that on my TBR!
Want to take part?
If you are a blogger or author and would like to take part in The Bookshelf click here, and fill in the really short contact form to let me know!
I can’t wait to hear from you!