Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to Rough Magic author Lara Prior–Palmer.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Lara Prior–Palmer: Shadow the Sheep Dog by Enid Blyton. I remember the disasters so well. And how this dog, in all his vulnerability, was such a friend—to the reader and to his fellow characters.
BM: Favorite Reread?
LPP: Object Lessons by Eavan Boland. My favourite memoir by a brilliant, generous poet whose life I give thanks for today (Monday, April 27th). The sentences in Object Lessons are so lucid I find myself in a new state of consciousness.
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
LPP: Hmmm all the books I have ever read? She’s a chatterbox. In genre-specific terms, Rough Magic is probably speaking to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. And also to travel writing traditions.
BM: A book that blew your mind?
LPP: Jana Prikryl’s The After Party. It hypnotised me. May I quote? ‘The earth has feelings/ some killed others in its mud and it has lots of mud’ (‘Geodes of the Western Hemisphere’).
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout out to?
LPP: Here Until August by Josephine Rowe. Collection of edible short stories.
BM: A book that made you cry?
LPP: Carolyn Forché’s What you Have Heard is True. So many tears, it’s visceral. El Salvador.
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
LPP: Girl, Woman, Other—Bernadine Evaristo. In particular, Amma and Yazz’s mother-daughter relationship.
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
LPP: Girl, Woman, Other—it’s the best thing to read in Britain right now, or anywhere—I just ordered a copy for a friend in the States from beloved Point Reyes Bookstore.
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
LPP: Wuthering Heights, what a dazzling first page. I drink the sentences, put the book down, and forget I’m reading it. Perhaps I don’t feel the need to continue because so many people have done the work for me?
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
LPP: The Tempest. I was assigned it twice: hated it aged 11, didn’t mind it at 17, loved it thereafter. The language, the earthiness, the water.
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
LPP: Sharks in the Time Of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. I like sharks. And I am enticed by his writing style.
BM: Book you wish would be adapted for a film/tv show?
LPP: Again, Carolyn Forché’s What You Have Heard is True. Lionel Gómez is such a character, and the creation of a film would further his wish that people in the United States hear of how their government directly supported violence in El Salvador.
Lara Prior-Palmer was born in London in 1994. She studied conceptual history and Persian at Stanford University. In 2013, she competed in the 1,000-kilometer Mongol Derby in Mongolia, sometimes described as the world’s toughest and longest horse race, and became the first woman to win the race, and the youngest person ever to finish. Rough Magic is her first book.
Lara Prior-Palmer’s Rough Magic is out now in paperback from Catapult