5-4-3-2-1: Gwyneth Rees

By Jim Dean, March 21, 2016

I’m really looking forward to Gwyneth Rees’s Honeymoon Sisters (Bloomsbury) – one of the books we’ll be discussing for tonight’s #CountdownML at 8pm! – so it was great to get her to take part in our 5-4-3-2-1 feature today!


5 authors I’d want with me if I was stranded on a desert island:

Jennifer Gray – so that she can entertain me with more stories about Atticus Claw who is my favourite fictional cat (apart from my very own Cosmo of course!)

Julia Donaldson – so long as she brings along her husband Malcolm with his guitar so that we can have some songs around the campfire to keep us cheerful.

Frank Cottrell Boyce – I’m sure he’d be good company, plus I could get some tips on writing the sorts of books that get made into films and hopefully make Millions! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

Roald Dahl – because he was the most amazing writer of children’s books ever, and I wouldn’t mind being stranded on a desert island for a bit if it meant I could meet him!

Ray Mears – because my husband says I have to have someone with me who knows how to survive on a desert island. I guess he’s got a point!


4 TV shows I can watch all day long:

Fawlty Towers – this still makes me laugh out loud and I could watch all the episodes back-to-back with no problem at all.

NCIS – this is my current American TV cop-show addiction. I’m still only on series 10 so I’ve a way to go to catch up.

Without A Trace – I used to watch these way too much on DVD with my husband. Once after we’d cycled through our local park at nightfall we realised that we’d lost a bag. My husband left me at the park gate to go back to look for it. Watching him cycle off alone into the darkness of the park was such a classic ‘Without A Trace’ disappearance moment that it felt really creepy. I was almost surprised when he reappeared twenty minutes later with the missing bag! I think that’s when I realised I needed to cut down on my W.A.T viewing!

Friends – this show really does feel like an old ‘friend’ when I think of it now. I was watching it in my late twenties/early thirties when I was at the same stage in life as the characters in the programme (albeit my life was a lot less cool and I spent much less time in coffee shops!). I loved watching it every Friday night after work, often in the company of a real-life friend or two, and I can remember exactly where I was when the last ever episode aired in the UK!


3 relationships I love reading about:

Siblings – these feature to a greater or lesser extent in many of my favourite books. I think the explorations of love & loyalty, rivalry & jealousy (so typical of sibling interaction) make for lovely juicy plots.

Parent & child – I’ve become even more drawn to this one since becoming a parent myself. The parent-child dynamic is such a meaty one and it’s probably the one which evokes the strongest feelings for me. That’s true whether the ‘child’ is an actual child or an adult.

Teacher or mentor & pupil – this is another good one, not dissimilar to the parent & child, chiefly I think because of the progression that is inevitable in this kind of relationship. As the pupil learns from the teacher and perhaps reaches a point where their skill is actually equal to or even greater than the teacher’s, then the changing dynamics of their relationship, the shift in how they view each other, makes for great story material.


2 places I love to read:

On holiday – I get through more books on holiday than at any other time. I think it’s to do with real life not getting in the way as much and there being no guilt attached to lying around all day reading!

In bed – I love to read snuggled up in bed with no other distractions ie when the kids are asleep or at least in bed and reading themselves!


1 book I’d save from a burning bookcase:

That’s easy! It would definitely have to be the one I’m writing at the moment! I’ve written 37,000 words out of 50,000 and I definitely couldn’t bear to write them all again!

What do you think?