5-4-3-2-1: Zoe Marriott

By Jim Dean, December 17, 2015

Zoe Marriott’s books are huge favourites amongst bloggers and YA fans so when she offered to do a 5-4-3-2-1 post for us we didn’t need to be asked twice!

5 Classics you wish more people were reading today

I’m going to take ‘classics’ to mean ‘Books I grew up with and loved’ and so:

The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. The story of a young woman who takes her twin brother’s place in order to become the first female knight for a hundred years, the first book of this was published the year I was born, and they were my obsession between the ages of eight to twelve. This series is literally the reason that I am a YA novelist today – re-reading them as an eighteen year old made me realise that fiercely Feminist fantasy novels for young women was what I should be writing, and I’ve never changed my mind!

The Winter of Enchantment by Victoria Walker. An enchanting little gem of a book, set in Edwardian England, about a lonely boy who stumbles upon a magic mirror, and gets the chance to undo a terrible curse, illustrated by its author with spiky Gothic artwork. I must have read one hundred times as a kid, and pull it out as a comfort read even now. If you love the cosy Britishness of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe then this book will be a dream come true for you.

The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy by Terry Pratchett. Despite the late and much lamented PTerry’s fame these books are still very little known and have never really received the praise they deserve. Beginning with a book in which a video game is brought to life by the imagination of the players – thoughtful Johnny and his quirky misfit friends – and ending with a book where the unwitting gang are sent back into the past of their town and change events in small but unexpected ways, this trilogy is both hilarious and truly moving.

The Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix. Most young fantasy novelists that you talk to will admit that Sabriel was a huge inspiration growing up – so why haven’t more people read this trilogy?!? It’s one of the most breathtaking examples of world-building in the YA fantasy genre and the characters – from crotchety talking cat Moggett to the secretive Disreputable Dog to the sword-wielding heroines and their hapless male sidekicks – are unforgettable. Where is my multimillion dollar film adaption?

Beauty by Robin McKinley. This is still probably the book which most influences my writing style, out of all the books for children and young adults I’ve ever read. Another book that was published around the time I was born, it’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that transforms both of them into believable people, and the prose is so lyrical and lush that it’s hard to believe it was Robin McKinley’s debut novel.

4 Songs that sum up the last novel you wrote perfectly

I’m going to use FRAIL HUMAN HEART for this, since my more recent book isn’t technically finished yet and won’t be out for another year:

Paprika Theme‘ from the Paprika OST

Never Let Me Go‘ by Florence and the Machine

Alibi‘ by 30 Seconds to Mars

Am I Not Human?‘ by Two Steps from Hell

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

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD because I am a huge Marvel geek and this show has moved on from a rocky beginning to become one of the most fast-moving, morally ambiguous and fascinating series on TV, to my great admiration.

Elementary because I had to watch something in between waiting for seasons of Sherlock and it turns out that Joan Watson is a flawless human being and should actually be the star of every TV show in the world, who knew?

The Great British Bake Off. Do I even need to explain this one? Bring your soggy bottom to the gingham alter!

2 Places you love to read

On the train: I love train journeys. They’re so relaxing. The countryside just keeps spinning on past and even if the train is delayed there’s really nothing you can do but sit there and wait to arrive wherever you’re going. Add a good book and it just becomes blissful, although I have gotten some funny looks from fellow passengers when sad bits have made me cry.

In the bath: This might be a hold over from growing up in a teeny house with four other people and sharing a bedroom with my big sister, which meant that pretty much the only place I could get quiet and privacy was the bathroom. But if I’m loving a book so much that I just can’t bear to put it down, then filling the tub really full, dumping in a bath bomb or some dead sea salts and sliding in with the aforementioned book (and possibly a tall, cold drink) is luxury beyond compare.

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

You’ll get there. No, really. You will. Stop worrying and comparing yourself to published writers and your book to published books and despairing every five minutes because you’re not somehow already at your destination – your ulcer is only going to get worse that way. Be calm. Believe in yourself. You’ve got this. You will get there.

What do you think?