“My biggest early influence was Sue Townsend. Her Adrian Mole books were set in my home city of Leicester and felt completely real. She wrote about the kind of people I saw everyday, in school and out on the streets and I’d never read anything like that before discovering her work. It was a shock – like being whacked in the head with a hammer.
And when I found out about her life, her influence grew greater still. Sue was a poor, working class woman who lived on a council estate in Leicester, and suffered from poverty and even a lack of food sometimes. Despite that background, she became a literary star – an amazing story on it’s own.
She was my literary hero and role model in a way that other writers I read (Roald Dahl etc…) could never be. She was “one of us” and that made her books even better. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole is funny, sharp and easy to read, and a brilliant snapshot of what life was like in 1980s Leicester. It’s a classic and deserves to be – and I recommend it to everyone. Sue and I ended up becoming friends, something I will always treasure. Sadly, she is no longer with us, but her books live on. They’re as unique today, as they ever were, and just as great.”