When I was little I devoured everything Enid Blyton wrote – The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Malory Towers, St. Clair’s – everything! I then moved on to anything with horses in it, Nancy Drew, and the Sweet Valley High series. Then hormones kicked in and I went through a pop music magazine phase – Smash Hits and Number One. After that I moved on to adult books but whenever I think of my childhood books, I think of Enid Blyton.
My favourite author as an adult is Sharon Kay Penman. I bought her doorstopper The Sunne in Splendour when I was on a school trip to Belfast. The sheer length of it (886 pages) intimidated me for a couple of years but when I did read it, I loved it, and I managed to track down all her other novels while I was at college in Dublin. Her latest, Lionheart, is on my Amazon wishlist!
I also love her Welsh trilogy (Here Be Dragons; Falls The Shadow; The Reckoning) about the last years of independent Wales, not just because of the brilliant writing but because I was brought up in North Wales and I have either been to, or know of most of the locations in the books. I can read them again and again.
Another of my favourite authors is Phil Rickman, who writes the Merrily Watkins mystery series. Merrily is a single mum, a Church of England (Anglican) priest but she is also a Diocesan Exorcist, so there is often a paranormal twist to the mysteries. Every book in the series is a great and unique read!
Honourable mentions go to Star of the Sea, Joseph O’Connor’s famine epic; the late Diana Norman, author of Daughter of Lir a brilliant novel about Ireland just before the Norman Conquest; and Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, probably the saddest book I’ve read yet.