Welcome to Sally Harris, author of Haverscroft.
Thank you, Ruby, for having me on your blog today and many congratulations on your forthcoming novel!
Ten books that have most influenced my writing? That’s quite a challenge! As with any writer, I was a reader first. Before that, I was a listener. I recall my mother chattering with her friends, my aunt or grandmother; local gossip, snippets of news, highlights of the latest T.V drama. I still love to listen to people in shops, cafes or on the train. I find other people’s lives fascinating and they influence my writing constantly. I write gothic fiction, ghost stories and other dark tales. Here are the ten books I’ve found most influential.
- The Collector by John Fowles
I read this in my teens when I was trying to scare myself witless with books by Stephen King and Susan Hill. Fowles’ claustrophobic narrative about the butterfly collector who expands his collection to include the lovely Miranda is a powerful one. The writing portraying both captor and captive is compelling. This is a dark book with a dark ending, and although there is no ghost in sight, I have no doubt about its influence on the direction my writing has taken since then.
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
My A-Level English literature teacher tapped me on the head with a copy of this novel as he handed them out at the end of the summer term. ‘Read it,’ he said. ‘You will like it!’ I loved Elizabeth Bennet and the cast of Austen’s characters so much, by the end of the summer I had read all her novels.
- Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
I devoured this book in two sittings. Had it not been for children, it might have been over in one! I have worked as a solicitor for more than twenty years. Not only did I love the tight plot and characters in this story, I also appreciated the research Doughty put into all things legal. It can be irritating when I’m shouting at a book or TV screen, It isn’t like that!
- Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier
I have read Du Maurier’s novels and short stories countless times over the years. Her talent for creating atmosphere and tension has influenced my own writing enormously. Just recently, I again enjoyed her short story, The Birds. If I must limit my choice to only one of her books, it is this one. I still think Dona should have run off with her pirate, Jean-Benoit Aubéry!
- The Woman In Black by Susan Hill
I first read this novel about the same time as I read The Collector. I have read it several times since and never fail to enjoy the chilling tension Hill delivers in spades. All I would say to anyone who has not read this book is read it. The image of the wasted Woman in Black is chilling.
- Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
I have just finished reading Wakenhyrst and also loved Thin Air but Dark Matter is my favourite amongst Pavers gothic fiction. The isolation of the Arctic and the slow build of dread and tension had me gripped. It is an excellent modern ghost story.
- The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse
The Taxidermist’s Daughter is probably my favourite book by Kate Mosse. I love her writing, so it’s almost impossible to choose. However, as far as influence on my own writing is concerned, it must be The Winter Ghosts. The narrator is recovering from the horrors of World War I and over the course of one evening has an encounter which is not all it seems. Mosse’s prose creates tension and atmosphere effortlessly – essential elements in any good ghost story.
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The relationship between Lou and Will was what I most enjoyed, how their relationship develops and how they both deal with the devastating effect of Will’s accident on his life. Some dark themes in this story.
- Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
The opening chapter drew such a strong image in my mind I can see the hot air balloon crashing as I write. The story of one man’s obsession, and how another man struggles with being the object of it, is enthralling.
- The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
This story is right up my street! A ghost story set in an isolated old house in 1940’s England exploring insanity and old family secrets. The house is as much a character as the rest of the cast. I devoured this novel. Having written ghost stories of my own I take my hat off to the way Sarah Waters builds both the tension and atmosphere at Hundreds Hall.
Haverscroft is a gripping and chilling dark tale, a modern ghost story that will keep you turning its pages late into the night.
Kate Keeling leaves all she knows and moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage. Little does she realise, Haverscroft’s dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity, her husband and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. Can Kate keep her children safe and escape Haverscroft in time, even if it will end her marriage?
Sally Harris writes as S.A.Harris and is a family law solicitor. Born in Suffolk she now lives and works in Norwich, Norfolk with her husband and three children. Haverscroft is her debut novel.
Sally won the Retreat West Crime Writer Competition in 2017. She was runner up in the Brixton BookJam First Chapter Competition and was shortlisted for The Fresher Prize First 500 Words of a Novel Competition in 2018. She was published in their anthology, Monsters, in November 2018.
When she can find time between work and the chaos of family life, Sally is writing her second novel, Silent Goodbye, a supernatural tale set on the Suffolk coast.