THE COMPLETE GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES Race Point, £20
This was given to me by my godmother. I was reading Ladybird books and Enid Blyton but these are dark, exciting stories. I was terrified.
By the time my mother told me to go to sleep, I had the sheets over my ears. But I’d still be reading.
They were my introduction to the idea that life wasn’t just nice.
THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett Virago, £6.99
Another children’s story, though I still read it now. It’s about incredible loneliness.
I felt quite lonely because my father was in the Army so we were constantly moving. The secret garden is a place where there’s love and you can make friends.
I’ve read this at least 10 times and would argue that it’s the first psychological crime thriller.
Understanding of the human mind was still in its infancy but she created an extraordinary character in Rebecca who is psychopathic and dominates the story yet she is dead. An astonishing piece of work.
MADDON’S ROCK by Hammond Innes Vintage, £9.99
Innes was a fantastic writer, his prose and dialogue were brilliant.
This is a fast-paced thriller about a mutiny on a ship at the end of the war when two soldiers are marooned. It looks at the difficulty they have surviving.
THE POWER AND THE GLORY by Graham Greene Vintage, £8.99
My favourite author. He wrote page-turners about people who understand their flaws and try to triumph above them.
This is about a hopeless whisky priest in Latin America, where religion is banned and he is the only one left who can bring solace to people. You can’t read it without crying.
THE HOLY BIBLE: KING JAMES VERSION HarperCollins, £7.99
I’m an atheist but I think this is an extraordinary book. I dip into it for analogies and did so for my new book.
It is a fabulous piece of writing and full of wisdom.
I wish more people would read it because almost our entire culture is based on it.