Things change a lot between the ages of eight and twelve. I didn't move schools or travel across the world. Not much had happened on the outside, but even so I was a different person with a different outlook at twelve compared to who I'd been four years earlier. As I spent a huge amount of that time with my head in a book, it wasn't really surprising that the stories had affected me greatly.
I also love the escape motif. Susan and Colin, the children at the centre of the book, spend a great deal of the story trying to evade capture. This book has a page-turning quality that stands up beside the faster-paced middle grade novels of today, which is not something you can say for all the classics.
This brings me nicely on to The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. I could have lived inside this book forever. I read the whole sequence of books and loved the ones involving the Drew children too, but this one is my favourite. I have re-read it many, many times.
Like The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, I love the fact that this is fantasy within our real everyday world. Susan Cooper is an expert at brewing atmosphere. She creates a feeling of menace that had me hiding under my covers long after I'd put down the book and switched off the light. If you haven't read them, I recommend starting with the first book, Over Sea Under Stone, and reading all five books in order, finishing with Silver on the Tree. Cooper sets up the battle between good and evil, drawing on mythology and the English landscape throughout history. The time slip passages are woven neatly into the narrative.
Of course my reading then had an enormous impact on me as a writer. In particular, I never let go of my fascination with fantasy set in our everyday world. I love that lifting of the veil, where a fantasy dimension is revealed showing the characters and readers something they never knew was there. I'm very proud that my own fantasy middle grade novel, Red Moon Rising, will be released on the 2nd April. The main character, Laney, discovers that she is part of a secret community of faeries living as if they're humans. They belong to tribes with powers over water, air, plants, animals or fire. Laney awakens to her new identity on the night of a blood-red moon and this instantly makes her an object of suspicion. She sees a dark figure searching the graveyard and has to try to figure out what all of it means.
I'd like to thank Lisa Evans for an awesome cover, and my publisher Nosy Crow for believing in my book.
So, what books made you?