Welcome back 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.
It’s a special bookshelf today as our guest is celebrating her birthday! I’m so pleased to welcome the author of suspense thriller After Leaving the Village to The Bookshelf, Helen Matthew, and a huge Happy Birthday!
So, onto the books! Here is Helen’s bookshelf, enjoy…
What was the first book you remember having on your bookshelf?
Five on a Treasure Island – Enid Blyton. Sad but true – she inspired so many of us with a love of reading.
What was the most recent book you added to the bookshelf?
The Dry – Jane Harper. This was a highly-rated debut crime novel. I’m about 100 pages in and enjoying it so far.
Which book have you most recently read from your bookshelf?
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota – This was chosen by my book group and I’m grateful to them for that. In the end, most of them didn’t enjoy it. They found the Indian words and names, and the sweeping backstory, too confusing but I loved it because it deals with contemporary topics I’m passionate about – exclusion, exploitation, modern slavery and the search for a better future.
Which 5 books from last year would you not let go of from your bookshelf?
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng -about the isolation of the Chinese-American experience and the sad consequences of poor communication in the family.
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore, who sadly died last summer – I’ve learnt so much about the craft of writing from her novels.
Black Water by Louise Doughty;
I See You by Clare Mackintosh – I enjoy psychological thrillers and I’m studying the form as my own writing is moving more in that direction, but some aren’t as well-written as I would like. Clare is an exception – a good writer, who produces complex, twisty novels drawing on her police background.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. Everything she has to say about her feminist activist background still holds true today.
Which books are you most looking forward to adding to your bookshelf?
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal (to be published on 29 March 2018). Kit’s debut My Name is Leon, published in 2016, is a stunning read – emotional and heart warming. It’s about two young brothers, Leon and baby, Jake whose mum can’t look after them and what happens when Jake is adopted and Leon is left behind.
What was the most recent addition to your writers bookshelf?
Cry of the Flying Rhino by Ivy Ngeow – set in 1996 Malaysia and Borneo. I haven’t started it yet but I’m intrigued by the setting and I love to dive into another culture.
Which of your own books are you most proud of adding to the bookshelf?
After Leaving the Village – my suspense thriller on the dark and gritty themes of human trafficking and modern slavery. It’s been endorsed by the inspirational charity, Unseen that works towards a world without slavery.
Which book on your bookshelf do you most wish you had written?
Appletree Yard – Louise Doughty. I’m fascinated by the way a life can change in an instant. Louise writes on contemporary themes and isn’t afraid to explore the dark underside of society.
Is there a WIP we can look forward to adding to our bookshelves?
My next novel is at the fourth draft stage but I expect to do at least ten before it’s ready to submit. It’s a story about a family in crisis. When the book opens the reader assumes these are the usual challenges all families face but is everyone telling the truth or is something more sinister going on? I had a working title for the book ‘The Ruin’ but at a recent writing conference, I was given an advance copy of a crime novel that’s due to be published in March with the exact same title! I’m struggling to find another title that fits my novel so perfectly.
Can you share a picture of your bookshelf / favourite bookshelf?
The packages piled up on the chair in front of the bookshelf are pre-orders of After Leaving the Village via my own online shop, ready to be mailed out..
Helen Matthews’ Bookshelf
About Helen Matthews
Helen Matthews writes novels and short stories. Her debut novel ‘After Leaving the Village’ won first prize in the opening pages category at Winchester Writers’ Festival and will be published in 2017. She was runner-up in Southport International short story competition and her stories have been published in Artificium and in Love Sunday. She blogs about travel and more and writes freelance about HR, Employee Benefits and pensions. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes.
Helen it has been a pleasure having you here, there are a few books here I will be adding to my pile as I’m very intrigued by them including yours. Have a wonderful birthday I hope you have a fantastic day.
Taking Part in The Bookshelf
I’ve currently put a pause on taking new applications for The Bookshelf. I recently put a call-out for participants on Facebook and am currently booked up into June so want to get through most of these lovely people before I open the floodgates again. If you already have a form to return to me, feel free to do so, just be aware there is a quite a wait for spots right now.