Childhood reads? Where to start...the beginning is probably as good a place as any. And it all started with Dr Seuss. The Cat In The Hat to be exact. It's a lovely book - has limited vocabulary (all the better to read it yourself), tons of quirky illustrations and the story is told in rhyme, so you can sing it if the mood hits you. I adore Dr Seuss even now - although my favourite these days has to be 'Oh the places you'll go...' - every word is true and it gets better with every page you turn, warning of troubles and worries that might lie ahead for the unsuspecting reader. The tale is told with wit and warmth and all accompanied, of course, by Dr Seuss's distinctive illustrations.
Like other Minxes, my childhood home library shelves groaned under the weight of Enid Blyton's works - many had belonged to my dad when he was a child. I spent hours in the company of the Famous Five and the Secret Seven (although, the boy in the Secret Seven who liked to dress up did annoy me greatly). The Naughtiest Girl In The School, Mallory Towers and St Clair's books were also great favourites.
And then, ghost stories. A gentle introduction, when I was nine, with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I loved that book and reread it frequently - even when it wasn't Christmastime. After a while, I moved on to horror - James Herbert was a particular favourite and his books were eagerly shared between my group of friends (The Rats, The Fog, The Dark...). And science fiction - I was lucky enough to be taught by a wonderful and inspiring English teacher, Miss Ferguson, who introduced us to Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon) and John Wyndham (The Chrysalids, Trouble With Lichen, The Kraken Wakes and others). This, of course, led naturally on to The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, written by the frighteningly clever and sadly missed Douglas Adams.
Now I'm going to push it a bit here, because my last choice isn't a book - but I read it every single week between the ages of 10 and 15. Some of you will realise I'm talking about Jackie magazine. Fashion advice, health columns, problem pages - Jackie had it all. And fiction - it was Jackie's fiction pages that inspired my first short stories. Although these attempts were hand written, cringe-worthy and never submitted.
And what about romance? When did that make an appearance on my shelves? Well, romance has a story all it's own. And, if you're very, very good, one day I might tell you all about it.