Ask the Author …with Isabel Ashdown
Isabel Ashdown is the author of seven books, three of which are set on the Isle of Wight, including her bestseller Little Sister which was shortlisted in the prestigious Dead Good Awards. She is a Royal Literary Fund associate, a creative writing tutor, and a nature-loving, dog-hugging coastal gal at heart.
Her latest novel Lake Child is an atmospheric psychological thriller set in the heart of Norway’s ancient fjords – a story about the lies we tell our loved ones when the truth is too dark …
What’s on your lockdown reading list?
I’m currently reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and it’s spectacularly good. There’s a pile of advance thrillers waiting on the corner of my desk, sent by publishers, but I tend to read thrillers only when I’m not busy writing one – so at the moment I’m enjoying a variety of genres. I always have an audiobook on the go too, and right now I’m listening to The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman, which is wonderful.
The best spot for reading and/or writing in your house?
When the weather is good (as it seems to have been throughout lockdown), there’s a sunny little spot in the corner of my garden where I like to sit and read at the end of my working day. In cooler months, I have a favourite little armchair next to the fireplace, where Leonard the dachshund and Charlie the border terrier will come and keep me company.
The one book you couldn’t put down recently?
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – it’s smart, funny and page-turningly good!
The one book you couldn’t finish?
Lately, I’ve got much better at giving up! I used to feel too guilty to not finish a book, but when I think of all the novels I want to read but may never get to, I don’t feel so bad. Ulysses by James Joyce was a struggle … but that was quite a few years ago, so I may still go back to it.
Physical or Kindle?
Who doesn’t love the smell of a fresh book, or the joy of browsing in a favourite book shop? That said, I do own a Kindle, as it’s great for travel and for sampling extracts of books before I buy the paperback. I also find the Kindle useful for final read-throughs of my own book drafts – it gives me a more authentic ‘reader experience’ than A4 printouts.
The book or author which has most influenced your work?
So many writers have inspired me, in different ways. But off the top of my head I can say: Alice Munro and Joan Barfoot for their sensitivity and insight; Raymond Carver for his stark and meaningful prose; Stephen King and Virginia Andrews for capturing me in my adolescent years with their relatable characters and hooky storytelling; Sue Townsend for making me laugh when I was aged 13 ¾; Dr Seuss for feeding my love of language and rhythm; and all the authors, old and new, who encourage others to keep going, to keep writing.
Aside from reading and writing, how are you keeping yourself busy during lockdown?
Routine is important to me and my writing, so suddenly having my big kids and husband around all day has taken some adjustment! Most mornings, we’re out of the house before seven for an hour’s walk with the dogs in nearby Sussex woodland, which is so beautiful and uplifting, it sets me up for a good few hours of work. Unusually, I’ve been knocking off mid-afternoon most days, to make the most of this rare excess of time with the family – so I’ve been doing more cooking and sewing and reading in the garden. For me, it’s been a good lesson in slowing down, and in valuing loved ones.
The strangest thing you’ve found yourself doing as a result of lockdown?
I confess in the absence of visitors, and in light of all this glorious sunshine, I’m fully indulging my natural bohemian tendencies. 90% of my wardrobe has been pushed aside in favour of kaftans, harem pants and sandals. Oh, and I’ve dusted off the ‘best’ glasses for everyday use. I mean, we might as well make every day a ‘best’ day in the face of such uncertainty, don’t you think?
Click here to purchase a copy of Lake Child from the Medina Books online store along with all of Isabel’s other titles.