J.G. Ballard: Known for his rather nihilistic SF novels, usually set in a future where the world has gone to heck in a hand basket! My favourite of his novels is “High Rise”, in which the residents of a skyscraper descend into chaos and violence. He wrote a novel based on his childhood in a POW camp inAsia, as “Empire of the Sun”.
Elinor Brent Dyer: Best known for her Chalet School series of novels for girls. She wrote 62 books from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, set in a school which moves from Austria to Jersey, to Wales and then to Switzerland. She also wrote theLa Rochelle series and several stand-alone novels, as well as school textbooks. She ran her own school, the Margaret Roper school for girls, in Hereford.
Alexander McCall Smith: Most famous for his No 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels, which are about Precious Ramotswe and her detective agency in Botswana. He has also written the Sunday Philosophy Club series, the 44 Scotland Street series and the Portugese Irregular Verbs series. He has written over 60 books so far.
Ian Rankin: Apart from cameo roles in Alexander McCall Smith’s44 Scotland Street series, Mr Rankin writes detective fiction, featuring Inspector Rebus. Rebus is a hard-drinking police detective who is barely tolerated by his superiors, despite his many successes. The books are gritty and violent, but his characters are vivid and interesting.
Terry Pratchett: Author of the funniest, most thought-provoking and entertaining fantasy novels, set on a planet called Discworld. I particularly love his later novels and those featuring the Night Watch. Although comedic, he often has a serious point to make. Especially in “Feet of Clay”, about the Golems and their part in Ankh-Morpork society. Sadly, he is now also known as the most famous sufferer of early onset Alzheimer’s and is writing more Discworld stories against the clock.
Joanne Harris: Having a French mother, Ms Harris sets many of her novels in the French countryside. Her most well known novel is “Chocolat”, which was filmed, starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche.
‘Miss Read’: Real name Dora Saint, ‘Miss Read’ is a fictional teacher in a tiny rural school. She wrote two series of novels set in the villages of Fairacre and Thrush Green, from 1955 to 1996, as well as a number of children’s books. I love her gently funny, wry and compassionate stories of country life, set in the 1950’s.
Angela Brazil: She was one of the first British writers of the modern school girl novels, whose books were written purely to be enjoyed and not to convey morals and manners to the readers. She said, of her writing; “To be able to write for young people depends, I consider, largely upon whether you are able to retain your early attitude of mind while acquiring a certain facility with your pen. It is a mistake ever to grow up! I am still an absolute schoolgirl in my sympathies”
Ellis Peters: The author of medieval murder mysteries, featuring Brother Cadfael as the Welsh, ex-crusader, Benedictine monk detective. Her real name was Edith Pargeter and she wrote historical fiction under that name as well her pen names (John Redfern, Jolyn Carr and Peter Benedict).
Ray Bradbury: An American writer, he wrote science fiction and fantasy, horror and mysteries. His most famous works are Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. He also collaborated with Charles Addams on the Addams Family. I particularly like his vaguely horrific stories set in small, ordinary towns.