5-4-3-2-1: Martin Stewart

By Jim Dean, April 28, 2016

Today sees the release of debut author Martin Stewart’s hotly-anticipated fantasy Riverkeep, published by Penguin! We’re thrilled to celebrate by getting him to take part in our regular 5-4-3-2-1 feature.

5 books you’d save from a burning bookcase

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. An absolute classic―does more in 60 pages that most novels can over hundreds.

Jaws ― a brilliant, flawed, tense thriller that puts meat on the bones of the greatest film ever made. No arguments.

The Northern Lights ―a masterpiece. It’s the book that made me understand what kind of writer I wanted to be, and it changed my life.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ ― I don’t know how many times I read this as a boy, and it’s grown with me. The humour and the pathos has deepened as I’ve aged. A must-read for everyone.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid ― I can’t read fiction when I’m writing, which is tricky, because I write all the time! This is my favourite non-fiction work: a book I’ve read countless times, as well as listening to the audiobook more than once. As a memoir of childhood, it’s a perfect thing to keep my mind in a writing place.


4 songs that sum up the last novel you wrote perfectly

These aren’t necessarily the songs that sum up Riverkeep, but they’re songs I listened to a lot during the writing process to get me into a certain headspace―so they’re very intertwined with the story for me!

Fantasy, by MS MR
Fever to the Form, by Nick Mulvey
Dauᵭalogn, as covered by the Vitamin String Quartet, originally by Sigur Rós
Down the Drain, by Ukulele Clan Band


3 TV shows you can watch all day long (when not busy writing)

Frasier. I’m a big sitcom fan, and a committed re-watcher. I think I might be word perfect on almost all (eleven years!) of this show.

Masterchef: I absolutely love it. I’ve watched so much of it that I think I’ve devised a strategy for getting through―and I’m trying to get my brother to go on it so I can put this into practice!

Match of the Day: I get sleepy, so I’m rarely awake for it on a Saturday night―but there are few treats more luxurious than coming down on a Sunday morning for a nice coffee and a giant bowl of cereal, watching it after the event, and fast-forwarding the more boring parts of the analysis (by which I mean Alan Shearer).


2 pieces of advice you’d give yourself if you could travel back in time to before you became a published author

Find your voice, and know that this will take time. Stop being so easily led by whatever you’re reading. Write the book that only you can write and keep writing until you feel like it sounds like you―not a facsimile of someone else.

Take time to think about what you’re trying to say. All the bells and whistles and cool ideas don’t mean anything unless they’re serving a strong story with a strong central idea.


1 relationship you love reading about

Family―especially the love between a child and their parents. It’s the most beautiful, moving thing, and never fails to get me in the gut.

What do you think?