Guess what I’ve just finished? Only the edit on my first ever full commission for Jo Fletcher Books – Marked. But it wasn’t just me who worked on it, of course, because the author and I worked in tandem to get this done, whilst Jo oversaw the whole project. In fact, a whole host of people will have gone into this book by the time it’s done – because I’ve also just passed it to our sales, marketing, publicity and rights teams to read. Not forgetting the art team, who created the stunning cover a few months ago.
Pretty soon it will also go off to the typesetter, who will turn it into the print version, and then to the proofreader, and then to the reviewers, who will put it in front of the readers . . .
Making a book is a team effort, but making a book work? That depends on you. On the reading public. Because really, the only thing that makes a book work is word of mouth. So, having seen something going round Facebook recently asking for people to think of the ten books that have influenced them, I thought I’d repost my answers here and invite you to do the same in the comments below – because there’s nothing like a recommendation, but there’s also nothing like a recommendation paired with the words: ‘this book changed my life.’
1. Jane and the Dragon by Martin Baynton and The Little Red Car (I don’t know the author, but it was about a little red car that helped its owners rescue a sheep from a hedge – if anyone knows the author, comment below!) My nan gave me these when I was little and the pictures and lessons they taught have stayed with me for a long time.
2. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. Who wouldn’t want to climb a magic tree and enter a different world every time they did so? Reading these books gives you that (even if it can’t quite bring you magic medicines and whatever you want for your birthday).
3. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. This one stayed with me because of the image of guinea pigs running around with multicoloured rings tied round their necks in some in-between world. Oh, and I love reading about the emergence of Narnia and the White Witch. Who else was thinking Don’t ring the bell! But also wondering what would happen if they did . . .
4. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is just such a heartwarming story about kindness and cruelty and love. We should show everyone a little bit of kindness – it could make someone’s day.
5. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I cried for fully 15 minutes at the end of this trilogy. There really is not a lot like it – and I wanted a daemon so bad!
6. Sabriel by Garth Nix. This was recommended to me by my English teacher, Mrs Forte and I credit it with getting me into fantasy. This is my comfort book, the novel I turn to when I’m feeling sick or scared or anything; I’ve read it so many times it’s silly. It’s excellent writing combined with fantastic characters and a plot that just will not let you go, even after you’re done. No wonder so many people were waiting with baited breath for more books set in this world.
7. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop. I read all three of the Black Jewels books in one sitting, overnight. Nuff said.
8. Blood River by Tim Butcher. An excellent non-fiction novel about a journalists journey overland through the Congo. It highlights – very effectively – some of the worst things going on in the world today, but these are things most remain completely oblivious to. It opens your eyes.
9. Porcelain by Chris Wildgoose and Benjamin Read. A graphic novel that has stayed with me for it’s sheer beauty and unhappy melancholic feel, it’s just a complete delight to look at and read. Recommended for anyone who likes a dark fairy tale story
10. An Ancient History of Britain by Neil Oliver. I love history, especially ancient history, and this novel takes you on a journey from the last ice age to Roman times without ever feeling like a non-fiction novel or hard work. It’s interesting, engaging and perfect if you’re a beginner in this field who doesn’t want to be patronised – like me.
If you want to, join in on Twitter – @jofletcherbooks – or in the comments below. I look forward to reading your top tens whether they be your top ten of the year, your top ten most influential books, your top ten books that must be read – let’s get these recommendations going, shall we?