My writing influences: Jenny Blackhurst
Jenny Blackhurst, whose brilliant debut novel How I Lost You is out now, reveals some of her cultural influences...
Posted on April 30, 2015 in Guest Author
I’ve always devoured anything with a bit of a puzzle to it, and my television programmes are no exception. I’ll binge watch Jonathan Creek and CSI, and I was addicted to Lost. It’s this puzzle addiction that inspired the twists and turns of How I Lost You, I wanted readers to have a lot of clues and afterwards go ‘ahhh, so that’s how that fitted in’.
In more recent years I’ve been watching ITV three-part dramas. I think since settling down and becoming a mother I can relate to a lot of the family type issues that arise in them. I watched one with Hermione Norris about a mother who suspects her son is involved in a murder, and that got me thinking about the kind of emotions involved when someone your whole world is centred around does something very wrong. How do you stop loving someone like the flick of a switch? That’s why I wanted How I Lost You to be more than a whodunit, I wanted that emotional element, for readers to say ‘what would I do? How would I feel?’
This is going to seem like an odd one because it’s nothing like the kind of books I write, or read for that matter, and was in no way a direct influence on the plot or genre of How I Lost You, but my film choice is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. It’s one of the only films I ever watched that sucked me in and made me care about the characters as much as a book had. Funnily enough I’ve never read the book, for fear of becoming disappointed in the film I suppose. I want it to remain as one of the best pieces of storytelling through film my younger self ever came across.
Like most writers I am a prolific reader, and therefore it is so hard for me to choose one book that influenced me to pick up a pen and write. Since I’ve enjoyed creating stories since I was in Junior school it would make sense that my earlier books such as Enid Blyton (in particular The Enchanted Wood and Faraway Tree series which I am currently reading to my 3 year old son) inspired creativity in me. As I grew up my aunty had a collection of Patricia Cornwell books which she would loan to me one after the other which certainly kick started my love of the crime genre, and a special mention has to go to my favourite book of all time, Strangers, by Dean Koontz. Not a genre I write in, but I was gripped by the mystery element of this book the first time I read it, and have been every time since. Who are these strangers, and what connects them? What happened to them? If I can inspire questions in readers (and have them actually care about the answers) I’ll consider it a job done.
How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst is out now in paperback and ebook