I got the chance to ask two authors from the UK this week all about which books influenced them the most as children. Both Jo Franklin and Mo O’Hara provided some great answers (and insights) into how exactly the books we love as children, influence us as professionals. Please share in the comments below, the book or books you loved most as a child. I would be so curious to know your answers!
What book had the most impact on you as a child and why?
Jo: That is such a difficult question to answer! I think the two most important books were The Runaway Summer by Nina Bawden and Flambards by KM Peyton. I was totally transfixed by both these books because I totally related to the main character. They both felt like they were misfits in the world they found themselves in. They were unwanted and unloved and this is how I felt growing up. It’s no surprise that I write about misfits now. When I was a little older I identified with Sylvia Plath and Morrissey because they seemed to be on the outside but had managed to get everyone to listen to what they had to say. The book that made me want to be an author was The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. Frankie is struggling with her identity and tries to hitch herself to her brother’s wedding – only to find she isn’t welcome. These books have me in tears every time.
What did you love most about it? The story, the characters or the illustrations?
Mo: Hitchhiker’s Guide was anarchic, hysterical and wonderously epic. It had me at the Vogons. I think the story was brilliantly sprawling and non liner. I really liked that. The characters where all so original yet really accessible too.
Do you feel that particular book has had a direct influence on your career as an author?
Mo: This book was the first one where I really felt the voice in a novel. I think that has had a major influence on how I wanted to write. Even though I didn’t become a writer for many years after I read Hitchhiker’s Guide, I had that voice in my head. I knew I wanted to write funny. I knew I wanted to write with a distinctive voice. Douglas Adams was a benchmark for doing both. I think I’ve spent my career so far trying to get somewhere near that bar.
Tell us a little about your current book or project and where we can find out more about you online:
Jo: My first US publication has just come out. ‘I’m an Alien and I want to go Home’ is published by Clarion with lovely illustrations by Marty Kelley.
Dan feels such an outsider that when his mean sister tells him he is an alien, he believes her. He enlists the help of his two crazy friends and tries to get back to his home planet, with hilarious and disastrous consequences.My books have been published in a number of territories and I am currently writing a story called The Bushcraft Kid which is being published in weekly installments by Fiction Express with readers voting for what happens next at the end of each chapter. You can keep up to date with what I am up to at www.jofranklinauthor.co.uk
Mo: I have just finished writing the My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series for Macmillan UK and Feiwel and Friends in the US.
All the books are out in the UK and book four is coming out soon in America so I’ll be going over to the East Coast of the US to promote it. I live in London now but am originally from just outside Philly so it’ll be kind of a trip home as well. After that I have a picture book coming out in the UK next year and am writing new stuff as we speak so fingers crossed something new will hit the shelves again before too long.
Ashley Lucas (aka Lady Lucas) loved all books relating to holidays as a child – most especially Halloween. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler most definitely influenced her decision to move to New York as an 18 year old and spend many, many days at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is the artist and author behind a variety of children’s books and coloring books. You can find her online at ladylucas.com or by saying hello on social media: @LadyLucasArt