A self-confessed rom com afficiando, Poppy Dolan joins us today to talk about reading her very first romantic comedy, as well as a dark, challenging title that changed the way she saw books forever. Poppy's novel, There's More to Life Than Cupcakes, is out now.
I’m going to be a bit sneaky and actually tell you about the bookish year that changed my life, because I found two books in the year of 1996 that really transformed the way I felt about reading and writing altogether.
So, back in 1996, I was 14, rather shy and geeky (people find the shy bit hard to believe now, because I can’t be shut up these days. The geek bit, however, they never question). I loved school, I loved getting As, doing my homework, learning the right answers and I loved Gary Barlow. Yeah, he wasn’t the obvious choice back then but look how smoking hot he is now! I was clearly wise before my years.
I thought reading books in English Literature lessons was all about learning the one meaning to them and then repeating it in an essay. I was pretty nifty at that: ‘Thomas Hardy meant this, Shakespeare meant that, blah blah’. And then a really cool and well-read friend leant me this book called The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. ‘Wasps?’ I thought sceptically, but what was within those pages blew my little brain. It was dark, challenging, funny, scary, confusing and also as plain as day. I’ll never forget finishing that book and feeling like someone had just poured sherbet into my brain – it was fizzing and jumping around in a way that Hardy had never provoked in me. No offence to purists, but Hardy books are full of dusty old tosh in comparison. The Wasp Factory taught me that the books you study at school are by no means the be and end all. They are just the tip of the iceberg.