Books that changed my life: Michelle Paver

Dubbed the “mistress of suspense”, novelist Michelle Paver’s latest novel, Wakenhyrst, is out April 4, published by Head of Zeus

Once Long Ago

by Roger Lancelyn Green, illustrated by Vojtěch Kubašta

My father bought me this when I was five. It’s beautifully illustrated, full of legends and fairy tales from all around the world. So there’s Cinderella, but there’s only two or three other stories you’d recognise from the European tradition. They’re fierce myths, very strange, dealing with different cultures and I read it again and again. Strangely, the first story is a Native American one called “The Boy and the Wolves”, and I ended up writing Wolf Brother, a series about a boy and a wolf.

 

The Collected Ghost Stories

by M R James

I found this in Wimbledon Library when I was about ten. M R James was an Edwardian academic, very erudite, so it’s written in this dry prose with crusty academic characters and then suddenly you get a shock intrusion of the uncanny. It’s not horror, it’s much more subtle and eerie and scary. I read them curled up at night when I wasn’t supposed to be reading. But it all added to the sense of forbidenness, particularly as our house overlooked a graveyard. Those tales sparked a lifelong love of ghost stories and eventually I wrote my own, Dark Matter and Thin Air. And the eerie continues with Wakenhyrst, my latest.

 

The Master and Margarita

by Mikhail Bulgakov

I don’t think I read this in one night, but I know I read until the small hours. By that point I’d gotten rid of my bed, because I was trying to emulate the Stone Age—I was a strange child. So, I was huddled under the duvet on the floor reading this completely weird story. The devil comes to Moscow and causes total havoc among the Soviet elite with the help of the most marvellous entourage. It’s wild, witty, profound, moving and beautifully paced. That was it for the rest of my teens—if they weren’t Russian, I wouldn’t read them.