I have often written about books I have loved. This is a wide and frequently shifting list. But then, in March of 2015, Terry Pratchett passed away. I got the news through Twitter - the same way I get a lot of my news - and for a moment, everything went still. I never met Terry Pratchett, I didn’t know him as a person. I saw him at the Hay Literary Festival once, and the experience is one that will never leave me. Yet, despite our complete and utter lack of a personal connection, Terry Pratchett has unarguably helped shape my life.
So, I’m going to talk to you about books I love. The ones that have become so much part of my existence that I often forget about them when asked to talk about “good books”. Because these books are not simply good books. They are books that have held my hand in the darkest periods of my life, they are books that have made me who I am.
- Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen): I don’t read this book any more. I float along the words as I have read them so many times that the act of reading is no longer necessary. Elizabeth Bennett - in my estimation the greatest character ever written - springs off the page as soon as I open the book, and sits down next to me, muttering about the ridiculousness that surrounds her. I know what is going to happen. EVERYONE knows what is going to happen. Yet every time I read it, my heart stops, just in case this time it is different.
- Harry Potter (J K Rowling): The boy who lived. Was there ever a better title for a first chapter of a first book? No. No, there was not. I should stipulate that I am a grown up (supposedly). But these books were written for me just as much as they were written for an eleven year old. They are exquisite, in their depth, the intricacies of the world-building, the development of the characters. They are not books. They are doors into a world in which there are wizards and witches and dragons. And I still cannot go into King’s Cross station without surreptitiously looking for platform 9 ¾.
- A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens): I won this book in a writing competition when I was ten and, for the next twenty years, I read it religiously every Christmas. This book has infused its way into our culture. If we call someone a Scrooge, we all understand the reference. Imagine having achieved that. Imagine being the kind of writer that doesn’t only change the hearts of readers but the understanding of an entire culture.
- Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series: I have read these books so many times, more times than I can possibly count. These books are my go-to books - when I’m tired, when I’m down, when I just want to go home to a world that rests on the back of a turtle. When someone mentions Nanny Ogg, I laugh, because in my head I see her standing on a table and singing an inappropriate song about a hedgehog. And talk of death has an unfortunate tendency to make me smile. Because it’s not death. It’s Death. Talking IN CAPITALS with an affection for cats. This bizarre, frankly ridiculous world, is as real to me as my own living room, and stepping into it allows my breathing to slow, my muscles to unknot.
These books, these authors, they are why I write. These authors taught me that words can build worlds, and that few times are dark enough that you cannot be rescued by an open page and stepping onto the back of a turtle.
A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He's unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.
Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman - before it's too late.
To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety - both for her, and her young niece who's been recently admitted. She's heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?
As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman's next target will be. But he's there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks...
Intrigued? You can read an extract of Chapter 1 here, http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/index.php/extract-hidden-emma-kavanagh/