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The Bookshelf Diaries: Allison Tait

The Bookshelf Diaries takes a peek into the reading life of writers, readers and book lovers. Today, Allison Tait talks, multi-reading, inspiration, and reading while writing.

What are you reading right now?

I am a serial multi-reader (if that’s a thing). I am currently reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (which is taking me far longer than it should as I’m actually enjoying it), Paper Towns by John Green, and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

Where did you buy it?

I buy my books all over the place, but try to support my local bookshops where possible.

Was there a book that first interested you in writing?

I think every book I’ve ever read pushed me along the writing path. I have been a voracious reader ever since I began with Dick and Jane readers when I was four or five. I didn’t really start writing fiction until I was in my twenties, though. I think I always thought it was something that other, very clever people did and I was busy writing magazine feature articles. Then, one day, I just started writing fiction in my spare time and I haven’t stopped.

What have you recently read that was un-putdownable?

Two books: one was Michael Robotham’s Life Or Death, and the other was The Big Twitch, by Sean Dooley.

I interviewed Michael Robotham for my So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, and was intrigued by the question at the heart of his novel: why would a man escape from jail one day before he was due to be released? Of course, I had to read it – and the whole time I was, all I could think was ‘this is an author who doesn’t plot before he starts, at all’, followed by ‘how does he do it?’.

The Big Twitch is a memoir about one man’s birdwatching odyssey (stay with me) and it’s enthralling (no, really).

What’s in your to-read pile?

Honest answer: the typeset pages for The Prisoner of the Black Hawk, book two in The Mapmaker Chronicles series. Wishful thinking: Us, by David Nicholls (my online bookclub read this last month but I was too busy with writing and promotion to join in), Stasiland by Anna Funder, Michael Connelly’s new novel, The Burning Room. I’m sure I’ll get to them all… soon.

Where do you like to read? 

I’m not fussy. Happy to read anywhere. We have a hammock in our garden, and it’s nice to lie in there with a glass of wine and a book, but I don’t last long due to small boys and a puppy, so usually I’m just hiding in my favourite chair, or stretched out on the bed with the french doors open.

What do you read to feel inspired?

I think everything I read inspires me in some way. The only disappointing thing about being a writer is that I think you lose the innocent joy of reading. I find it hard to read now without thinking, ‘Wow, how did he/she do that?’, ‘Why is this working?’ or, ‘I wish I’d written that’. When I’m writing, whether it be for adults or children, non-fiction or fiction, I read the opposite of what I’m writing. It helps to ensure I don’t get overwhelmed or confused.

Allison Tait is a multi-genre writer who has more than 20 years’ experience in magazines, newspapers and online publishing. Her children’s novel The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the End of the World has just been released by Hachette, under the name A.L. Tait. It’s the first in a trilogy that is already garnering her a legion of young fans across the country. Allison is the author of four non-fiction books, including Credit Card Stressbusters (Wiley, 2009), Career Mums (Penguin Australia, 2012) and two ghost-written memoir/biographies. Find out more at 

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