Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with author Louise Beech which was first posted in March 2019. It’s been brought up to date to reflect Louise’s latest publications.
I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I’ve also long been haunted by the sea, even before I knew the full story of my grandad who inspired How to be Brave, the novel that finally got me my book deal. I live with my husband on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from my bedroom window I can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired The Mountain in my Shoe. My children have grown up and left home, so I fill that void with writing. It’s filled many voids over the years.
Over to Louise:
Which five 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.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you 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…
Give five pieces of advice 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 five 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…
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
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.
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Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.
But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.
When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.
An exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma, about the unbreakable bond between sisters, Nothing Else is also a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.
This is How We Are Human
Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely.
Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy … she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.
Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.
When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.
A topical and moving drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family … to survive … This Is How We Are Human is a searching, rich and thought-provoking novel with an emotional core that will warm and break your heart.
I Am Dust
A haunted theatre
A murdered actress
Three cursed teenagers
A secret that devastates them all…
The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…
Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?
Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?
Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?
Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.
And Chloe has been watching…
Call Me Star Girl
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…
The Lion Tamer Who Lost
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?
Maria in the Moon
‘Like a cold spider, the memory stirred in my head and spun an icy web about my brain. Someone else crawled in. I remembered’
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.
The Mountain in my Shoe
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.
How We Are Brave
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.