Books Magazine

Spotlight on Laura Barnett: Authors Who’ve Most Influenced My Work

By Anovelsource @thenovellife

I am constantly fascinated and amazed by the authors who influence a writer. It’s like taking a peek at a writer’s bookshelf, but even better! This way there’s more background on why a particular author is chosen!

So, it is with immense pleasure that I bring you author, Laura Barnett.  Her debut novel The Versions of Us, was released in the U.S. earlier this month after first being released in the UK June, 2015. Plus 24 additional countries have since published The Versions of Us!  In case you missed it, my review is here.

Without further ado, welcome Laura Barnett!


Laura Barnett

I wouldn’t be the writer – or the person – I am today if it weren’t for Anne Tyler. I was thirteen when I read my first Tyler novel, A Slipping-Down Life: the book had come free with my mum’s women’s magazine, and she passed it on to me.

It was so much better than I was expecting: there, caught between those flimsy paperback covers, was a young woman’s whole life, rendered in all its blazing ordinariness and tawdry glamour. Since then, I’ve read every novel Tyler has written, and her particular brand of clear-sighted, emotionally cogent, unshowy realism has probably been the biggest single influence on me as an author.

While writing my debut novel, The Versions of Us, I discovered another author who would send shockwaves through my understanding of the power of literary realism. Elizabeth Jane Howard was, for a time, married to Kingsley Amis, and was also, for me anyway, the far more interesting writer. She died in 2014, but I read an interview with her the year before – just as I’d started the first draft of The Versions of Us – and thought she sounded wickedly intelligent and fascinating.

I began the first of Howard’s five-novel series, the Cazalet chronicles – about an upper middle-class English family before, during and after the second world war – and was dazzled by it. Her writing is intense, almost hypnotic, and incredibly detailed – we get everything from the characters’ innermost thoughts to the brands of shampoo they are using. I read all five Cazalet books in quick succession, and they gave me so much courage in my own attempts to capture life as it is actually lived, and pin it to the page.

My other ambition for The Versions of Us – and for all my writing, really – is to explore love not as an idealised, impossible dream, but as the real, flawed, multi-faceted, difficult emotion we all experience day to day. The writer who has most influenced that aspect of my work is probably Richard Yates. I read his novel Revolutionary Road – as devastating an examination of a bad marriage as anything ever written – shortly before my own wedding. It probably wasn’t the best timing, but I took such a useful lesson from it about not being afraid to confront the most challenging aspects of love, as well as its many joys.

The Versions of Us is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Laura Barnett is an author and a journalist based in southeast London. An arts journalist and theater critic, Laura writes for The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph and Time Out London. An interesting side note ~ Laura has an article in the British Vogue on migraines. The article perfectly sums up the life of a chronic migraineur. {Laura, as a fellow sufferer since age 19, I can empathize with you and the women in your family. Thank you for your wonderful article and attempting to quash a few myths about it being ‘just a bad headache.’}

Website | Twitter

from Goodreads:

the versions of us

In one moment, two lives will be changed forever . . . and forever . . . and forever.

The one thing that’s certain is they met on a Cambridge street by chance and felt a connection that would last a lifetime. But as for what happened next . . . They fell wildly in love, or went their separate ways. They kissed, or they thought better of it. They married soon after, or were together for a few weeks before splitting up. They grew distracted and disappointed with their daily lives together, or found solace together only after hard years spent apart.  With The Versions of Us, Laura Barnett has created a world as magical and affecting as those that captivated readers in One Day and Life After Life. It is a tale of possibilities and consequences that rings across the shifting decades, from the fifties, sixties, seventies, and on to the present, showing how even the smallest choices can define the course of our lives.


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