What’s your favourite classic read?
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The themes of social mobility, ambition and estrangement from family all resonated with me as an 11-year old growing up in a poor part of London’s East End just as I was about to head off to a smart grammar school in the city. The book has stayed with me ever since.
The book I wished I’d written...
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Before Tom Ripley, the killer in a crime novel was always the villain we wanted to see brought to justice. Highsmith’s genius as a writer results in us relating to a cold-blooded murderer - a fascinating and intelligent anti-hero - on a number of levels, including Ripley’s need to belong - and in spite of his psychopathy.
Preferred genre of reading?
Crime fiction - unless I’m writing a crime novel at the time - then its poetry.
At the moment that would be the American poet and author, Stephen Dobyns, whose novels, featuring former cop, now P.I., Charlie Bradshaw, bring alive the setting of the Saratoga racecourse as well as some unforgettable characters and crimes.
Books or ebooks?
I love a real book – and I can’t sign ebooks for my readers.
Best place to read?
As a church is to prayer, so a library is to reading.
Harbour Books in Whitstable. Its staff are like family. The place feels like home.
Favourite book quote – and why?
“It must have been on one of those September days when we were there in the woods gathering roots that Dolly said: Do you hear? that is the grass harp, always telling a story – it knows the stories of all the people on the hill, of all the people who ever lived, and when we are dead it will tell ours too.”
For me, that section from Truman Capote’s 1951 novella, The Grass Harp, perfectly evokes what remains permanent in the transience of our lives.
Strictly Murder (A Whitstable Pearl Mysteries Book) by Julie Wassmer, Constable, £8.99 is available now