My life in books: Hanna Jameson

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What is your favourite book and why?

‘Gospel of the Working Class: Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America’ by Erik Gellman & Jarod Roll. It’s one of those life-changers. It changed my life, and I’m pretty sure it would change other people’s too.

What’s the book, if any, that you wished you’d written?

I don’t wish I’d written many of my favourite books, as I only experience that emotion if the book is something I could imagine writing, something that, as well as being excellent, is close to my tastes in either style or genre. That being said, I wish I’d written ‘It’ by Stephen King. There is so much about it that blows my mind. The premise of course; an evil entity poisoning a location, which manifests as the greatest fears of the innocent. But also the book’s horrifying portrayal of adulthood as a state of complicity and collusion with that evil.

What’s a typical writing day like (if there is a typical day)?

I can’t write until I’ve eaten, had a coffee, and some form of exercise. I’m not a morning person, and it’s these tasks that get me through the hours after waking up. I’ll start some time in the afternoon and write - or think about writing - until I go to sleep. These hours are punctuated by breaks for reading, cooking, or TV. I also spend way too much time on Twitter. 

Physical book, Kindle or both?

I don’t own a Kindle. I once read a book on my phone because the download was on offer, but that’s the only time I’ve done so. I attach a lot of sentimentality to books and return to my favourites over and over again. I’m also a compulsive annotator, underlining sentences and writing notes in the margins, so if it’s a book I want to use for research then I have to own the physical copy.

What’s your favourite bookshop?

Lloyd’s of Kew, a secondhand bookshop. It’s full to bursting, you can spend hours in there. The awesome women who own/run the place will always offer a cuppa and also have an encyclopaedic knowledge of literature, so even if I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, they often do.

Where’s your favourite library?

I don’t think I have one, but I recently spent a few days working in the reading room of NYU’s Taniment Library, going through some archival material for research. The building is beautiful inside and out, and there is a Thai place around the corner that does these crab and cheese bites that I’m still thinking about regularly.

Are you/were you in a bookclub?

I’ve never been in a book club. I’m so picky about what I read and when that I couldn’t force myself to keep to anyone else’s routine. I used to belong to a writer’s group in Winchester (my hometown) called Hyde Writers, and the writers there critiqued and helped develop my work brilliantly. The process of critically reading other people’s work also turned me into a good editor.

Where’s your favourite place to read?

In bed. Bed is king.

 

The Last by Hanna Jameson (Viking) is out now

Catherine Devane