Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to the author of The Book of Cold Cases, Simone St. James.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Simone St. James: The Hobbit. Or maybe The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I’m not sure which one I read first, but as a kid I reread both of those on rotation, I loved them so much.
BM: Favorite re-read?
SSJ: Dracula has a permanent place on my shelf. I own it in paper, ebook, and audio so that I can access it anytime in any format.
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
SSJ: Oh, this is hard! Maybe I’ll Be Gone In the Dark. Or Robert Graysmith’s Zodiac.
BM: A book that blew your mind?
SSJ: Gone Girl, the first time I read it. I remember thinking that I had never read anything like it. The same with Donna Tartt’s The Secret History—I remember thinking by Chapter Three, “I’m going to have to read this again to even begin to understand what she’s doing, she’s so far ahead of everyone else.”
BM: Last book you read?
SSJ: Bourdain by Laurie Woolever, which was back to back with a reread of Kitchen Confidential. Amazing.
BM: A book that made you cry?
SSJ: The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. Such a great book, but there’s heartbreak in it. It got me good, I admit.
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
SSJ: Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was so, so good. It’s dark and bleak and retro, and more people should read it. She’s crazy talented.
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
SSJ: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It isn’t marketed as a comedy, but it has so much subtle wit. That book was pure joy to read.
BM: What’s one book you wish you had read during your teenage years?
SSJ: Literally any of the YA books that are around today, because I grew up before YA books existed. I was stuck reading terrible books about adults. If Sarah J Maas was writing when I was a teenager, I would have been the happiest teenager alive.
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
SSJ: I never, ever give books as gifts! It’s far too personal, like giving someone a bra. I’d rather give a gift card to a bookstore and let the person go shop for whatever they want.
BM: Classic book you hate?
SSJ: I don’t hate any classics, honestly. My most hated book ever, by miles and miles, is American Psycho, though.
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
SSJ: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Technically it’s a reread, since I read it twenty years ago, but I’ve been meaning to reread it for a while now.
BM: What’s a book with a really great sex scene?
SSJ: Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren is one of the hottest books I’ve ever read. It has at least five great sex scenes in it. It’s a master class. I love all of their books, but that’s probably my top favorite.
BM: Favorite book no one has heard of?
SSJ: Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart. She was popular in her time, in the sixties and seventies, but only a few of us read her anymore. She was an exquisite writer and that one is my favorite of hers.
BM: Favorite book of the 21st century?
SSJ: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
SSJ: I didn’t like any of the books I was assigned in high school. I don’t think anyone does, unless they get lucky!
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
SSJ: Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall. It’s YA suspense mixed with horror, and it’s like a weird waking nightmare—it’s creeping me out.
BM: Favorite children’s book?
SSJ: Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy—is that a children’s book? I read it when I was a kid. No one ever supervised what I was reading. When I tell you it’s about ghosts that haunt a couple of creepy dolls, you’ll understand why I grew up to write the books I do.
BM: Book you wish would be adapted for a film/tv show?
SSJ: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. Every woman I know, including me, is dying for really good romance movies and romantic comedies. Sexy ones! It’s a type of movie that has completely disappeared, and we want them back.
Simone St. James is the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel and The Broken Girls. She spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full-time.
Simon St. James’ The Book of Cold Cases is out this week from Berkley Books