Catherine O’Flynn, the youngest of six children, was born in Birmingham in 1970 to Irish parents. Her father was a newsagent, her mother a teacher. Prior to the publication of her first novel she did a variety of jobs including web editor, box office assistant, deputy manager of a large record shop, civil servant, post woman, teacher and mystery shopper. Her debut novel, What Was Lost, won the Costa First Novel Award, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and longlisted for the Booker and Orange Prizes. She was named Waterstone’s Newcomer of the Year at the 2008 Galaxy British Book Awards.
Her second novel The News Where You Are, published in 2010, was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, an Edgar Allen Poe Award and was a Channel 4 TV Book Club choice. Her third novel Mr Lynch’s Holiday was published in 2013. Her short stories and articles have featured in Granta, The Independent, The Observer and on Radio 3 and 4.
She lives in Birmingham with her husband and two daughters.
The Book of the West by Charles Chilton
Yes ‘the’ book – a bold claim. I’m just a bit of a sucker for anything about the old west – a result of reading too much Cormac McCarthy and eating too many wagon wheels in childhood.
Cards and Conjuring Tricks by Roberts and Crayford
This is too enticing a prospect to resist – a dusty old book of magic tricks. Picking it up feels like the starting point of a novel…(possibly horror).
A Child’s Year in Nature by M.H. Briggs
Subtitled ‘Being 52 Primary Talks’ – not so relevant perhaps to my childhood in inner-city Nechells, but if only I’d had one of these talks weekly I might have avoided the shame I feel as a parent now unable to answer queries on birds, bees, furry things…all that kind of stuff.
The Unofficial Countryside by Richard Mabey
A classic for everyone who loves the almost invisible edgelands of cities. Mabey spent a lot of time in derelict industrial wastelands in the 70s and brought them and the lives lived in them to wider notice.
Introduction to Inn Signs by Eric Delderfield
Something nicely M.R. James about this. I imagine all kinds of folklore and spookiness enclosed within.
Eight Tales of Terror by Edgar Allan Poe
I think I had this very collection as a child and it still haunts me. What child could resist that title though?