I am delighted to welcome Ally Kennen to the blog today with a special guest post on her ‘Tope 10 Fictional Inspirations’ as part of ‘The Everything Machine’ blog tour. ‘The Everything Machine’ is a hilarious new adventure about three children who are let loose with a top-secret magical machine with a mind of it’s own…..what could possibly go wrong? Olly, Stevie and Bird have just had a very special delivery. It’s a machine that has a name, can speak and is able to print ANYTHING they want it to. How about a never-ending supply of sweets and a cool swimming pool in the shed, for starters?
But is getting everything you’ve ever wished for all it’s cracked up to be?
So now it’s time to find out what books inspire Ally Kennen.
Top 10 Fictional Inspirations
I am a rabid reader, and everything I read probably gets churned up and processed and feeds the writing beast. I am currently reading ‘Vanity Fair’ by William Thackeray and I do love the wicked and irreverent Becky Sharp. I like characters who lead the plot rather than the other way round.
It is way too hard to choose only 10 fictional inspirations, so instead I have 15, which was also very hard. In no order at all…
1) Absolute Zero by Helen Cresswell I love this series of children’s books about Ordinary Jack, marooned within his horribly high-achieving family. This is funny writing about an eccentric, crazy family. The humour is delicious.
2) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Arghhh! This book is SO SCAREY and CREEPY and dark. It is brilliant and awful. I could never write anything so terrifying, and actually, that’s OK!
3) The Shipping News by E. Anne Proux. I keep rereading this funny, dark book. The language is so rich, the salty- seascapes so vivid, the characters unique. I am utterly behind Quoyle, the soft-hearted, unlucky, bumbling lead.
4) N-W by Zadie Smith. This is fine-honed super-writing. And funny. And a cracking story and deeply inventive. There are no superfluous sentences. Every. Word. Packs. A. Punch.
5) The Circle by Dave Eggers. What a crazy book! But this foray into the not too distant future is enticing and horribly convincing. Where we are all sewn into our virtual worlds. There is even a car chase at the end which is something I am personally fond of.
6) The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Actually I haven’t read it for maybe 10 years so I’d better not waffle here. But I remember a line ‘She was a blonde who would make a Bishop kick in a stained glass-window,’ that I find very entertaining. (That line might have come from another Chandler book) I love his characters’ dialogue, the dry wise-cracks are inspirational!
7) Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. Oh I love Thomas Hardy. I come from a deeply rural upbringing, no buses, hardly any cars, just hedges and cows and things. The red postbox on the road was the most exciting thing around, a portal to another universe. Maybe this is why I am drawn to the heavy, immersing, pastoral settings of Hardy’s books, the lengthy discourses on the quality of the light, the bridle-ways and tracks and plantations, and of course, the dreadfully sad, yet compelling, plots.
8) Titus Groan by Melvyn Peake. Reading these Gormenghast books is like burying yourself in another utterly immersive world, like being swept up by a far richer brain and being towed along by the thoughts. Crazy stuff: scary, wild characters, poetic. A brilliant series of fantasy books.
9) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This is a compelling page turner thriller. I love the warped characters and their motivations. The main characters are married, and absolutely loathe each other. This is like Uber-Twits!
10) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This book is so sad in places I can hardly bear to re-read it. But it is a story of a family’s progression through the Great American Depression. It is epic, but you don’t have to feel noble for reading it. It is gripping and thought-inducing and will colour in a new part of your mind…
11) Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth Von Arnim. Ah Elizabeth! she grows a glorious garden, she is married to a Man of Wrath, she has many babies and there are many many lines in this book, which one has to reread, like those plaque things with inspirational life-affirming messages. Only far better, and woven into a magical book.
12) Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Ok, this is the biggie. Hilary Mantel is the Usain Bolt Olympic super-human of the writing world. She writes books fit for the Gods. This book is the real thing. It has everything, story, PEOPLE, sorrow, poetry, more story. Actually I’m going to have to stop at 12 books and start reading it again. Sorry Mr Thackeray.
Ally Kennen has been an archaeologist, museum guard and singer-songwriter. Her dark and thrilling teen novels have been nominated for over eleven literary awards. She lives in Somerset with her husband and four children.
You can visit her website or follow her on Twitter @allykennen to find out more.
Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more guest posts and reviews
Monday 13th February
Tuesday 14th February
Wednesday 15th February
Thursday 16th February
Friday 17th February
Saturday 18th February
Sunday 19th February