Lynne Shelby – Books that Made Me

Lynne Shelby  with her debut novel French Kissing

I would like to welcome to my blog Lynne Shelby, an award-winning romantic novelist and fellow book lover talking about writers who inspired her and taught her a thing or two about the very noble art of writing.

You can tell from Lynne’s selection that she has been influenced by some of the greatest…


I enjoy reading novels of every sort, from romantic fiction to mainstream to science fiction to literary classics, but looking back over the numerous books I’ve read over the years, I can see that there are certain authors that have had a huge influence on me – not just as a writer but in other ways as well.

Rosemary Sutcliffe

I was about twelve when I found a book called ‘The Eagle of the Ninth’ in my school library, and discovered the wonderful historical novels of Rosemary Sutcliffe. I read her stories throughout my teens, when her talent for bringing the past to life, and for creating characters who are of their time while remaining vibrant and sympathetic for a modern reader, gave me a love of history that led to my studying it at university.

F Scott Fitzgerald

Books 2I’d written stories from a very young age, but it was reading the exquisitely plotted ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald when I was about seventeen that made me understand exactly what people meant when they talked about writers needing to hone their craft. Until then, I’d never thought much about the process of writing and what it is that makes a reader turn the page, but reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ I was in awe of the way every single bit of the plot comes together, and the way the outcome of the story seems so inevitable. This, I decided, was what I needed to learn how to do in order to become a writer.

Sergeanne Golon

Books 1

I was a history student when I first started reading the ‘Angelique’ books, by Sergeanne Golon. The romantic adventures of this lively heroine in a vividly evoked 17th Century France not only provided light relief from my studies, but motivated me to read more books in the romance genre, including contemporary romance, which is the genre I write in now. Incidentally, I answered a question in my Finals based on what I’d learnt about Louis XIV from ‘Angelique and the King,’ which I guess is an example of just how important books can be, and how you can learn from fiction without even realising it.

Ursula Le Guin

Book 3Writing in a genre that is often criticised (mistakenly, in my opinion) for being mainly about spacecraft, robots and other ‘toys for boys,’ science fiction author Ursula Le Guin not only creates her own imagined future, but peoples it with fully three-dimensional characters living in societies that challenge gender stereotypes of our own times. Reading her novel, ‘The Left Hand of Darkness,’ taught me the importance of having well-rounded, unique characters, who may be very different from a reader, but who it is easy for a reader to like.

Jane Austen

Of every author I’ve read and re-read, I would have to say that Jane Austen is the one who has had the most influence on me as a writer. Not for one moment would I suggest that my own writing is anywhere near being in the same league as hers, but every time I re-read her novels, I think this is the standard to which, as a romantic novelist, I should aspire. She taught me that while a reader might hope that the hero and heroine of a romantic novel are going to have a happy ending, they should not be sure that they are going to end up together right until the last chapter – and preferably not until the last page.

About Lynne Shelby

CoverLynne Shelby can’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing, and her ambition was always to be a published author. In January 2015, she was thrilled to win the Accent Press & Woman Magazine Writing Competition with her debut novel ‘French Kissing.’ She loves travelling and is inspired to write by the many wonderful foreign cities that she has visited and explored, with a camera and writer’s notebook in hand – Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Venice, New York, Copenhagen, Berlin and of course Paris, the city which inspired her to write ‘French Kissing,’ which is available from Amazon:



Twitter: @LynneB1

You are what you read

You are what you read and, in my case, that’s immeasurably better than if ‘you are what you eat’ were true! But we won’t go there – improvements to my diet remain consigned to my To Do List.

What follows is another list – a list of writers who changed my life and made me into a person – and a writer – that I am. That’s not to say that I am even a fraction as good as they are, but thanks to them, I am a hundred times better than I could ever be without them.

Jules Verne  

Travelling back in time to my childhood, I find myself in a place where no-one has ever been before: an other-worldly place, somewhere in the centre of the earth or perhaps on the Moon. I read all there was to read of Jules Verne and I believed in everything he said because he had made me realise that if I could imagine it than it had to be real. He taught me to live dangerously and never ever settle on a life inside the square.

Joseph Conrad

I was a teenager when that brooding man left his mark on my soul. He had burnt into it. He didn’t take prisoners in his writing – it was raw, touching every nerve, uncompromising. It was clear to me that every internal battle he described in his prose he knew intimately, and, by God, he had fought many demons in his day! His moodiness would rub off the places and the characters he evoked so vividly in his writing. His world was eerie, thick with suspense, haunting. He taught me to bare my soul, to never give in to embarrassment, to drag into the light all that delicious evil, and fear, and doubt that a writer should not dare to ignore.

Anne Rice

She swooped into my life in my twenties. No, let’s rephrase that: it was I who entered her world. And what a world it was! An ancient world that existed outside time and matter, populated by beings not quite human and yet brimming with humanity, worthy of redemption despite their unspeakable sins. The supernatural was the reality, believable and deeply rooted in human psyche. Anne Rice showed me that settings had to be made of thoughts and people, of depths of meaning rather than descriptions. Places had to live and breathe, not be merely put on display.

Ruth Rendell

I matured with Ruth Rendell. Under her tutelage, I explored the darkest recesses of human nature whilst at the same time discovering – to my surprise – its redeeming features: the vulnerability behind a crime, the reasons for insanity, the logics of obsession. Ruth Rendell taught me to understand my characters and never to judge them. They are who they are; it’s not their fault – not entirely… I know now to just let them be.

Agatha Christie

With all that angst and darkness, you need a friend. Agatha Christie’s mysteries provided some light – cosy – relief. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple became family members. We were solving crimes while sipping lemon tea and knitting mittens. All would be well, criminals exposed and their motives unpicked. And the world would go one, regardless. Agatha Christie taught me to like my characters, to find what we had in common and cherish it.

Praise for Life Without Me, my debut novel

Life without me

Life Without Me by Anna Legat, published by Accent Press, May 2015

Magic realism with humour and depth

“Great debut novel; intriguing storyline, humour, attention to detail and a bit of raunchiness too!

Funny, fast paced and original romp through a very different kind of family life. I love Anna Legat’s writing – it’s gritty, acerbic at times and peppered with laugh out loud moments. This book is totally unsentimental, and sometimes too close to home for comfort, but very entertaining all the same.

Life Without Me offers great escapism.

It’s a well written story and observation on modern family life. A clever idea written in a style that keeps you on the page.

This is a fast paced, punchy and gripping novel with no holds barred.” Amazon customers

“The characters are extremely well developed and the story flows smoothly. There is just the right amount of personal angst and tension throughout the book.” Dianne Klein

“A brilliantly written and unflinching story of a family falling apart, written from the unique point of view of a woman whose very existence is hanging in the balance between life and death. An enormously enjoyable and accomplished debut novel.” Grace Lowrie, author of Kindred Hearts.

“Life Without Me takes the reader on a keyhole-peeping ride. The writing is excellent, acerbic and funny. The reactions of the people around Georgie are told through her eyes as she watches from that limbo-land where souls go before they disappear into the afterlife. This is my favourite genre because the “magic” elements throw light on the human condition in ways that realism cannot. I found it easy to go with the scenario and enjoyed the ways Legat played with it. There are reminiscences of The Lovely Bones here, but with a much lighter story to tell. This is an engaging read with multiple storylines coming together to reveal an intricate plot, in both meanings of the word. Although this is a cautionary tale, Legat doesn’t preach. Life Without Me is told with both humour and depth. And just as you’re wondering how it’s going to end, Legat plays with the “magic” to treat the reader to a couple of final twists.” Virginia King, Goodreads.