Happy hump day and welcome to another Author Influences. Today I am delighted to be joined by Denise Deegan who tells us all about the books and authors that have inspired her.
What authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was obsessed with The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. Feels like I read it every day. Also loved the Happy Prince.
I was also particularly fond of Irish Fairy Tales by Sinead DeValera. There was a lot of mischief in these stories.
I remember adoring the illustrations in The Water Babies.
I loved all the Ladybird classic fairytales. My favourites were: The Elves and the Shoemaker, Rumplestiltskin and the Magic Porridge Pot.
(I am having the best time checking out all these books on Amazon and remembering all the illustrations.)
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was an honours student but didn’t particularly shine; our teacher never read out my work, for example. I loved all of the stories we read: Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, Charles Dickens’s Hard Times, even Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Macbeth. I didn’t like analyzing the stories, though. For me, it got in the way of a good story. I have the sneakiest feeling that the authors just wanted their work loved not analyzed. But maybe that’s just me.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love books for young people – from teenage novels right through middle-grade and down to picture books. I think some of the best writing falls into these categories.
I also love smart, contemporary stories for adults such as The Rosie Project.
I cannot explain my fascination with WWII books, across genre.
Rather than being influenced by what I read, I would say that I am drawn to read the same kinds of stories that I am drawn to write.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I am smiling here because I’ve written for adults, teenagers and children. I’ve also written both contemporary and historical. If anything, I should stick to one genre! But I write the stories that come.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Consciously, no. Subconsciously, I would say, yes. The trauma of watching Bambi’s mum die must have had a big impact! I continually write about loss.
I also think that The Selfish Giant has left its mark. My stories make people feel – as The Selfish Giant did to me, day after day after day.
And look at all those fairy tales I grew up on…. Not such a surprise, maybe, that I’ve written The Prince and the Pea.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Two great Irish, Young Adult authors: Deirdre Sullivan and Claire Hennessy. I’ve also just stumbled on an American writer of teen fiction called Adam Silvera. I will be reading all of his backlist.
Which books have you read that have made you think ‘Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
I wish I had written a picture book called Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson because it’s fun and clever and joyous.
I also wish I’d written The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because I loved those characters so incredibly much.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people?
Just one, Through the Barricades. My historical novel is based on a revolution that happened in 1916 in Ireland called The Easter Rising. It is also based on life in the trenches of WW1 in Gallipoli. I researched this story for two years.
Through the Barricades has changed my experience of the city I live in. Every time I go into Dublin now, the old buildings jump out at me and I imagine rebels and soldiers on the streets and on the buildings. I love Dublin even more now and feel so connected to its past. It’s a wonderful feeling.
A huge thank you for taking part.
A huge thank you for having me, Abbie.
Denise’s current novel, Through the Barricades, is out now. Here is what it’s about:
She was willing to sacrifice everything for her country. He was willing to sacrifice everything for her.
‘Make a difference in the world,’ are the last words Maggie Gilligan’s father ever says to her. She is still carrying them in her heart, years later, when she signs up to become a freedom fighter.
‘Don’t go getting distracted,’ is what Daniel Healy’s father says after seeing Daniel with the same Maggie Gilligan. Daniel is more than distracted. He is intrigued. Never has he met anyone as dismissive, argumentative… as downright infuriating.
The story of Maggie and Daniel is one of friendship, love, war and revolution, of two people who are prepared to sacrifice their lives: Maggie for her country, Daniel for Maggie. Their mutual sacrifices put them on opposite sides of a revolution. Can their love survive?
Denise Deegan lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies.
Denise has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was being a checkout girl, although ultimately this experience did inspire a short story…
Denise writes for both adults and teenagers. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House, Hachette and Lake Union Publishing. Writing under the pen name Aimee Alexander, Denise’s contemporary family dramas have become international best-sellers on Kindle.
Denise’s most recent novel, Through the Barricades, won the SCBWI Spark Award 2017.
Her writing for Young Adults includes the much-loved contemporary trilogy, The Butterfly Novels: And By The Way, And For Your Information and And Actually.
Denise writes women’s fiction as Aimee Alexander including Pause to Rewind, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar and All We Have Lost.