There has been some discussion lately about the link between reading and becoming a writer. As a prolific reader from an early age (see “In praise of libraries”), I would say from personal experience there may be a link. I was extraordinarily indiscriminate when young, consuming whole series of books by one author (Willard Price, anyone? Henry Treece?) before moving on to the next. A sort of book shark, always looking for the next meal. I read huge amounts of science fiction, historical novels, science books and assembled a shelf of favourites ranging from “The Gadfly” to “The Forsyte Saga”. The one thing they all did was to show me how powerful a good story could be. They filled my head with ideas, questions and new and wonderful places – it was only a matter of time before I started trying to create my own.
On the way I ran across John Buchan – oh what fun his stories were! Now I have the chance to revisit that early delight as part of the Middlesbrough Literary Festival when Southside Broadcasting present “The 39 Steps” as their book of the month. I’ll be meeting members of local reading groups at Thorntree Community Hub on the 24th of June, from 10am and we will be reviewing and discussing John Buchan’s most famous work as part of the broadcast. If you are around, please come along – it would be lovely to meet you.