This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Dorothy Koomson is the bestselling author of nine novels. Her latest, The Flavours of Love, is out in paperback this month. Here, she tells Novelicious why Jayne Fisher's The Garden Gang series helped set her on a path to being a writer.
This has been a difficult piece to write because books and reading have always been a huge part of my life. Picking one book that changed my life, when so many books have altered and shaped me in one way or another, feels like an impossible task.
My mum taught me to read and write when I was in nursery (about four years old), and my older brother used to read to my sister and I a lot before I started school. These two things meant that from an early age, I had access to the fantastical worlds you find inside the pages of a book.
My love of experiencing stories grew into a passionate desire to tell stories. It was around this time that I stumbled across the book series called The Garden Gang. Jayne Fisher started writing and illustrating her The Garden Gang stories – about a group of fruit and vegetables – in the late seventies, when she was nine. I remember thinking that if someone my age could write books, then so could I.From the age of about ten, I used to stop off at the library on my way home from school and read stories. I would also read books on how to write novels and taught myself basic grammar. I basked in the peace and tranquillity of the library. At home, I would read in bed from the light that could come into my bedroom from the corridor. I would devour books by Judy Blume and Jackie Collins (even though I was too young to read Collins’s stories!). I would also read the novels of films in the cinema because I was too young to see them – I remember reading Lethal Weapon and Witness over and over again.
I wrote my first book, called There’s A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, at 13. I would write a chapter every night then pass it around my convent school classmates the next morning.
Once I had written that story, I kept at it – writing short stories and another couple of novels until I got my first publishing deal with The Cupid Effect, when I was in my thirties.
I think reading is the best thing in the world. It’s the most personal, enriching way to experience the world without ever leaving your seat. And I feel so very lucky that I get to write books for a living. And because I get to do that, I chose Jayne Fisher’s Garden Gang series as the book(s) that changed my life. They were the books that first made me believe I could be a writer, too.