Lynda La Plante is the BAFTA award-winning writer of numerous television shows including Prime Suspect and the best-selling crime author of more than 40 books. Lynda’s new novel, Hidden Killers, is the second instalment of the Tennison series and is out now, published by Simon and Schuster.
I used to share a bedroom with my sister Gilly and would tell her ghost stories; not to amuse her but to scare her. They were so frightening that she’d have nightmares and I couldn’t sleep.
One night I remember creeping along the cold, dark corridor to go to the loo when I heard a voice calling ‘Let me in—let me in’! along with a dreadful tapping on a window coming from my Grandmother’s room. The wind started to howl and, terrified, I burst in and said ‘Help me! Where’s the ghost’?
Granny looked up and said ‘Don’t be silly, I’m listening to a story on the radio called Wuthering Heights’. It was the first time I realised how effectively you could take a story from a book and transfer it to a different medium, such as radio or television.
Almost as tormenting as Wuthering Heights, this classic Victorian fairy tale captured my imagination as a child. I was shocked that children used to sweep chimneys and so sad when Tom drowned and became a water-baby.
It made me consider the unfairness of life—why is one child cushioned in comfort and another forced to climb the filth of a chimney? Yet the story was magical and the book beautifully illustrated.
I particularly loved all the questions Tom asks on his adventures, many of them related to social injustice and Darwin’s theory of evolution. All my life I have asked questions too.
I used to have problems reading—I was told I had ‘word blindness’ which nowadays is called dyslexia. My mother gave me a soft, leather-bound copy of Spenser’s poem and said ‘if you can learn some of this then you’ll be able to read anything’.
She didn’t understand dyslexia any more than my father, who just thought I was naughty, but I rose to the challenge. I learned huge swathes of it off by heart and was so proud of myself for memorising something that difficult. It was proof that I could learn words just as well as anyone else.
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