Vicky Allan: no guilt in reading, only pleasure

Vicky Allan and Anna Deacon will be appearing live, free and online at Berwick Literary Festival, 10am on Friday 15 October. They’ll be chatting about their book For the Love of Trees: how people and trees have changed each other.

Vicky completed our Festival fun questionnaire. Read on for great recommendations and to find out more about Vicky’s reading habits.

Which book/s made the biggest impact on you as a young person?

When I was a young child, I was obsessed with Watership Down and Tarka the Otter. I even had soft toy versions of both animals sitting at the end of my bed. In my teens, it was the Brontës – the Jane Eyre scene where she bangs her head haunted me – and then, later, JD Salinger, particularly Franny and Zooey, made a big impact on me.

But also, one moment I often think back to was picking James Lovelock’s Gaia from the shelf of a library. It utterly changed the way I looked at the world.

Which book surprised you most and why?

Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication. I started reading it hoping that it would teach me how to have less arguments/talk things through better with my husband. In fact, what it taught me about was to seek out what was alive in me and alive in other people. It was a gamechanger.

What book would you save from a burning building?

Rachel Carson’s The Silent Spring. Particularly if I had a first edition of it.

How many books do you read in a year?

I probably read about a book a fortnight. But I don’t just read books, I also listen to them. I’m an audiobook junkie.

What book are you most looking forward to reading at the moment?

My friend Chitra Ramaswamy’s Homelands: The History of a Friendship, out next year. But I’m also very much looking forward to Richard Powers’ Bewilderment – his Overstory was part inspiration for For The Love Of Trees.

What’s your favourite place to write?

Everywhere. I can’t sit for too long in one place and like to drift from coffeeshop to kitchen table to bedroom chest of drawers with my laptop.

Which three books do you think all teenagers should read?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Call of the Wild by Jack London.

What’s your guilty-pleasure read?

There’s no guilt in reading, only pleasure. But I do find that a lot of my reading is caught up in my work, so for the purest of pleasure, or more of an escape, I would turn to authors like Jenni Fagan, Haruki Murakami, Donna Tartt.

Which three writers would you most like to have a coffee and a chat with?

The ones that aren’t around and had fascinating lives: Virginia Woolf, Catherine Carswell, Jean Rhys. A contemporary writer? I’d say Arundhati Roy – I interviewed her around 18 years ago and was blown away.

Vicky Allan and Anna Deacon. Photo: Anna Moffat Photography

For the Love of Trees is published by Black & White Publishing and is available from all good bookshops.

Find out more about Vicky and Anna’s work here

For the full Literary Festival programme and information on registration and booking for Festival Events click here

Jackie Kaines

I have excellent fun moving words of all shapes and sizes around to create blogs, articles and all sorts of interesting other wordy things.