Books by my bedside: Lesley Pearse
Lesley Pearse is one of UK’s best-loved authors whose novels have sold over ten million copies worldwide. She talks to us about the books that are currently on her mind as well as her latest work The Woman in the Wood.
What’s currently on your bedside table and why?
The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah because I had to read it before being on a panel with Sophie in South Africa. I'm enjoying it, but I don’t much like any of the characters, so it's easy to put down in favour of another book.
I’ve also got The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I bought it because I fell in love with the beautiful cover. Sadly, in my view, the cover is the best bit of it, the story is a bit Dickensian, weird and not exactly compelling stuff. I'll finish it if only to see why it won the Book of the Year Award.
Which book would you recommend to your closest friend right now, and why?
Neither of the two above, but I recently read The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter and I would recommend this one. It’s pacy, exciting, a real page turner.
Which book are you planning to take on your next journey, and why?
Sovereign by C J Samson. I adore Samson and his character the hunchback lawyer Shardlake who investigates crimes. Like all of the Shardlake series, it's set in the reign of Henry VIII. You can see, smell and hear old London—it's totally engrossing. This is the only book of his I haven’t read and it's big enough to last me several days.
Tell us about your latest book?
My latest book The Woman in the Wood is about 15-year-old twins Duncan and Maisy who are sent to their grandmother’s in the New Forest when their mother is sent away to a mental hospital.
Grandmother is a frosty woman, but they have one another and while exploring the forest they come across reclusive, self-sufficient Grace Deville. When Duncan goes missing, Grace is one of the suspects, but Maisy has other ideas and resolves to find her brother. But in doing so, her life too is in terrible danger.
Do you discuss your own work-in-progress with anyone?
I never discuss my work in progress with anyone. I might give a close friend a rough idea of the plot, or where it's set, but no one gets to read any of it until my editor has given me her view. I bite my nails until I get her opinion!
Which book made you want to write?
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. I was feeding my youngest one night, back in the early 1980s and I began it then. Hours later, with the sun coming up, I was still there, baby in arms, riveted by the wonderful story.
As I went downstairs I remember thinking, I’m going to write a book like that, which is impossible to put down. It took a while to get my first one published but I never wavered in that resolve. I re-read The Thorn Birds 18 years later, and it was still as fresh and wonderful as at the first reading.
If you weren’t writing you’d be...?
A gardener. I often think how good it would be to drive around in an old van to a job with all my tools. No deadlines, no real pressure.
I've designed, built and planted three very different gardens for myself over the years, and now one on a cliff top. Fortunately, gardening goes rather well with writing as I can spend all day outside, my mind free to think about plot and characters, and then I come in and sit down to write all evening.
The Woman in the Wood by Lesley Pearse is published by Michael Joseph on June 29.
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