Welcome to Louise Mangos, author of Strangers on a Bridge.
I’m thrilled to be invited onto your blog today Ruby, thank you! I loved choosing the ten books that have influenced my writing. I originally had twenty on the list, and found it extremely difficult to whittle it down to ten. Although I’ve read many crime novels in my spare time and as part of my current MA in crime writing at UEA, I also love literary fiction and the magic of beautiful prose. I’ve also included influential stories that go back to when I first started writing creatively in my primary school exercise books, the smell and feel of which I can still remember today.
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
I mention this book not only for Dahl’s humorous narrative, but also for the fighting attitude of Matilda herself. She never gives up, and along my journey to publication, I’ve often thought of her spirit and positivity. I wouldn’t mind some of her psychic powers too.
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This is another book that has been categorised as children’s literature. But like Dahl’s Matilda, I would encourage any adult who hasn’t yet had the pleasure, to read this magical story. Humans should all be treating each other like The Little Prince’s rose. This allegorical tale is simply enchanting.
- Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
Strangers on a Bridge isn’t the only novel I have written involving a stalker, but it is the only one I’ve written in first person throughout from the point of view of the victim. In my fascination for the way one human being can become so obsessed with another, I thought McEwan was clever in creating the tension surrounding his oppressor without ever allowing us to see into his psyche.
- Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Along with McEwan’s Enduring Love, this novel was a great lesson for me in how the writer can encourage the reader to form such a strong opinion about a supporting character and be completely misled at the end of the narrative. The ubiquitous twist of domestic noir fiction.
- Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
I adore Kingsolver’s narratives. Her earlier works, The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven were some of my favourite reads years ago, but with Flight Behaviour she developed her characters to a sublime level of believable penmanship. The emotions in the relationships are tangible.
- Dirt Music by Tim Winton
Winton is another author with the ability to create wonderful characters. What impressed me most with this particular novel is that although there are no speech marks or tags in the dialogue, the reader knows exactly who is speaking or thinking at all times. It takes skill to anchor a narrative so cleverly into the reader’s head, and with such beautiful prose.
- Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg
This is the first Scandi crime novel I ever read, and it started the small spark of wanting to write something outside the Anglo-Saxon culture I grew up in. Living in Switzerland gives me a different platform, although my writing is not as dark or violent as some of the Scandi noirs I’m reading today.
- Saturday by Ian McEwan
This is the second McEwan novel on my list. His writing often polarises people, and this book was no different. But something grabbed me about this plot. I was able to read the novel in one sitting. The story takes place over one entire day. I was entirely absorbed with the characters and setting. It challenged me to look at everyday tasks, to try to describe them in an engaging way, and to have something spectacular happen at the moment you least expect it.
- Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
When the early drafts of my novel Strangers on a Bridge were receiving attention from readers and editors, someone compared the creeping tension in the narrative to the writing of Highsmith. I was naturally flattered. Highsmith creates characters the reader loves to hate, such as Charles Bruno, but also characters who draw empathy from the reader despite their villainous deeds such as Guy Haines, and in later novels, Tom Ripley. When I began fumbling around for a title for my novel, I was very much influenced by Highsmith, as you can see.
- Marshall Cavendish Step-by-Step to Home Cooking
This needs no explanation. I received it as a gift over 30 years ago. I’ll let you guess why this has helped my writing, my marriage, and my sanity.
Strangers on a Bridge was published digitally on July 6th by the Harper Collins imprint HQDigital and will be out in paperback in August 2018.
To what lengths would you go to protect your family?
When Alice Reed goes on her regular morning jog in the peaceful Swiss Alps, she doesn’t expect to save a man from suicide. But she does. And it is her first mistake.
Adamant they have an instant connection, Manfred’s charming exterior grows darker and his obsession with Alice grows stronger.
In a country far from home, where the police don’t believe her, the locals don’t trust her, and even her husband questions the truth about Manfred, Alice has nowhere to turn.
Strangers on a Bridge was a finalist in the Exeter Novel Prize and long listed for the Bath Novel Award. Apart from writing novels, Louise also writes short stories and flash fiction, which have won prizes, placed on shortlists and been read out on BBC Radio. You can visit her website www.louisemangos.com with links to more of her short fiction, or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @LouiseMangos. Louise lives on a Swiss Alp with her Kiwi husband and two sons.