Desert Island Books with… Chantelle Atkins

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There may not be many places in the world that you can currently travel from the UK but, luckily for me, this does not prevent me from virtually stranding another guest on a remote island with only five books and one luxury item standing between them and certain madness. This week my victim guest is… Chantelle Atkins.

Book One – The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger

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The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.

The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvellously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

This is probably my favourite book. I borrowed it from my sister when I was 15 and devoured it in one sitting. I felt like Holden Caulfield was speaking directly to me. I fell in love with his character and felt like he would be the one fictional character I would love to be friends with. I’ve read it multiple times since, at different stages of my life and I get something new from it every time. On a desert island it would be like a comfort blanket to me.

Book Two – Ham On Rye by Charles Bukowski

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Charles Bukowski is one of the greatest authors of the twentieth-century. The autobiographical Ham on Rye is widely considered his finest novel. A classic of American literature, it offers powerful insight into his youth through the prism of his alter-ego Henry Chinaski, who grew up to be the legendary Hank Chinaski of Post Office and Factotum.

Charles Bukowski is one of my favourite authors and I absolutely adore everything he wrote, including his poems. I have lines from some tattooed on my arms so I can always see those words when I need them. This was the first book of his I read after I chose it by chance in a bookshop. I admire his writing and whenever I read anything of his, I find myself nodding and smiling and agreeing with him on everything. He makes me want to be a better writer and he was the one author that gave me the courage to try writing poetry. I would read this book again and again and not get bored of it.

Book Three – On The Road by Jack Kerouac

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Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat, on a breathless, exuberant ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for release or fulfilment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A brilliant blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac’s exhilarating novel swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion. One of the most influential and important novels of the 20th century, On the Road is the book that launched the Beat Generation and remains the bible of that literary movement.

Kerouac’s prose is just so beautiful, I have to re-read lines again and again, fully appreciating them before I can move on. He had a unique way with words. His narrative and descriptions are breathtaking but he was also such an observer or people. I read this when I was 19 and it inspired me and my writing. It made me want to go on road trips and travel and only associate with the mad ones! A great read, it would keep me occupied.

Book Four – Watership Down by Richard Adams 

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Fiver, a young rabbit, is very worried. He senses something terrible is about to happen to the warren. His brother Hazel knows that his sixth sense is never wrong. So, there is nothing else for it. They must leave immediately.

And so begins a long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home. Fiver’s vision finally leads them to Watership Down, but here they face their most difficult challenge of all…

This would be like another comfort blanket. I read it aged 10 and it was the one book that made me want to write stories too. It inspired a series of little stories about animals as I tried to emulate his style. I’ve read it again recently and got even more from it as an adult. It’s a long book about an epic journey and it would definitely help fill the time to read this again.

Book Five – It by Stephen King

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27 years later, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back…

Derry, Maine was just an ordinary town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part, a good place to live.

It was a group of children who saw- and felt- what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT appeared as an evil clown named Pennywise and sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away and forgot. THEN they are called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirs and coils in the sullen depths of their memories, emerging again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality…

It’s a huge book so it would fill some of the time if I was stuck on a desert island. I read it aged 13 and Stephen King promptly became my favourite author. I started writing darker, scarier stuff after I discovered his books. It is my favourite King novel because as well as being a terrifying horror novel, it’s also a beautiful tale of childhood and friendship and what’s it like to be an outsider. It would fill many hours and I would happily read it again and again.

My luxury item

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It would have to be notepads and pens.

About the Author

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Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 5 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. The award-winning Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson was released in December 2019 and is the first in a trilogy, followed by Emily’s Baby and The Search For Summer in 2021. Chantelle has had multiple articles about writing published by Author’s Publish magazine and runs her own Community Interest Company – Chasing Driftwood Writing Group.

Chantelle’s new book The Search For Summer came out on 30th April 2021. It’s the final book in a YA trilogy based around an unsolved murder, a neighbourhood feud and a teenage singer with a drinking problem! The other two books are A Song For Bill Robinson and Emily’s Baby. You can buy a copy of the book here.

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When Bill’s desire for the truth pushed Charlie into an impossible decision, he lashed out in horrifying fashion, stealing baby Gabriel and leaving Bill for dead.

Panic-stricken Charlie is now on the run with his three-day-old son. His hiding place reveals a mystery that will drive him further across the country. Summer was involved with the set-up that pushed Charlie over the edge and she was there when he stole the baby…but where is she now?

As his band The Rebel Anthem attract a manager and a possible record deal, Bill has a lot on his mind. He cannot accept that Summer would run away and fears his own behaviour may have played a part in her disappearance.In this dramatic climax to the YA trilogy, previous actions and decisions have consequences for all, while Bill and his friends must find Summer and baby Gabriel and finally bring a killer to justice.

Connect with Chantelle:

Website: https://chantelleatkins.com/

Facebook: Chantelle Atkins

Twitter: @Chanatkins

Instagram: @chantelleatkinswriter

Pinterest: Chantelle Atkins

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