Today I’m delighted to play host to Louise Beech. Louise writes heartfelt, emotive fiction in which Hull features as a setting. As a Hull lass myself, this is how I first became aware of Louise when I chanced across and read The Mountain in my Shoe. Since then I’ve bought all of her books and I’m keen to investigate the change of genre direction with her latest book Call me Star Girl.
Louise has been writing since she could physically hold a pen. It’s her safe place; where she escapes and finds therapy and joy. But it took ten years, four novels, and a few tears to finally get the dreamed-for book deal. Louise’s debut, How to be Brave, was published in 2015. It was a Guardian Readers’ Pick. The Mountain in my Shoe followed, and then Maria in the Moon, which the Sunday Mirror called ‘quirky, darkly comic and heartfelt.’ The Lion Tamer Who Lost is now out and is a Love Reading Star Book. Call Me Star Girl is out in April 2019.
So over to Louise
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Vincent by Don Maclean is about Van Gogh and is a powerful song for me. I remember it playing when I was a child, and my dad telling it was about the man who painted the sunflower picture on our wall. I couldn’t understand that it was just a print and not the real thing.
I listened to every album by The Weeknd while writing Call Me Star Girl – his songs are a mix of dark, crude and sometimes beautiful lyrics with the most haunting melodies.
My sexual awakening was to Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon on Top of the Pops in 1983 aged 12. He was singing Is There Something I should Know? And I knew I was in love…
Blondie’s Atomic is one of my fave retro tunes to dance to – Debbie Harry was so sexy and ahead of her time.
I’m not averse to a bit of classical music either – and I love listening to film theme tracks while I’m writing. One of my faves is from the movie Interstellar.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
I couldn’t not write. Writing is my world. I get agitated when I can’t do it for long lengths of time.
Swearwords. I’m a bugger.
Sleep. I’m horrible if I don’t get enough.
Lists. I make lists for everything. I make lists for my lists.
Crap TV. It helps me fall asleep. So that’s sleep again. Ideally I need twenty-one hours…
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Stop thinking you’re fat/ugly/worthless. I look back at pictures of myself and now, with time and maturity, I see a cute, pretty girl who had zero confidence. I’d love to go back and give her some.
Don’t give up with the writing. It will happen. (Obviously I didn’t give up, but I’d like my younger self to know that it’s all going to happen one day.)
Tell your English teacher she has no idea what she’s talking about.
Don’t listen to your parents.
You are right. Your instinct is right. Always listen to it.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
My middle names are Jane, Lady M, and Puffbrains.
I can’t drive.
I was conceived on Valentine’s Day, and it was my mother’s first time.
Despite generally smiling, I have a lot of anxieties.
I once told my sister’s father-in-law that she had slept with a horse, thinking he was someone else. Don’t ask. Or do if you ever meet me and we have time…
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
If you mean things I still haven’t done yet rather than things that were once on there that I’ve achieved…
Have one of my books win a major prize or be made into film, or both.
Maybe get a tattoo but not one hundred percent sure, hence why I haven’t so far…
Explore a lot more of the world – the Far East for example. I love travelling.
See my children make great lives for themselves.
Get a new washing machine.
Many thanks for sharing with us Louise. I will admit here I was already to amend The Weeknd to The Weekend, being the dinosaur that I am and then thought I’d better check. Just as well I did. I quite get the swearing thing, I’m a bugger for it too. You’ve certainly got us all intrigued with the horse story, you know that’s the first thing I might have to ask if we ever meet. I really hope you get to achieve your bucket list, certainly more than the new washing machine.
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Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…
Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.
Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …
What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…
Be careful what you wish for…
Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it? What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
Thirty-on-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.
With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything.
Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…
The Mountain in my Shoe (see my review here)
A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself.
On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.
Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.
All the stories died that morning … until we found the one we’d always known.
When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued.
Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love … and what it really means to be brave.
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