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Susanna Beard

The Essential Reading List

Susanna came late to authorship, but has never looked back. After taking the six-month Writing a Novel course at the Faber Academy, her first psychological thriller was published in 2017. Since then five more of her books have been published, with another due in June 2023. She writes dark, contemporary stories with strong female characters, often set in atmospheric places. Susanna is a regular interviewee on radio, at literary festivals, in libraries and at book club meetings.

Visit Susanna at; email her on; or like her page on Facebook: @susannabeardauthor.

Books by me

The Perfect Neighbour by Susanna Beard

The Perfect Neighbour

"I was inspired to write this story when I heard about the plight of domestic slaves in this country. It got me thinking about how people live close to each other but they never really know what's going on next door. I enjoyed creating a strong, feisty girl who wouldn't give up her fight and at the same time exploring the dilemma of a woman frightened to interfere. "

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The Perfect Life by Susanna Beard

The Perfect Life

"I've always been fascinated by people who believe they can only achieve their goals - or have a happy life - if they win the lottery. I had enormous fun imagining what it would really be like to win a fortune. Would it change your life for the better, or ruin it for ever? "

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What Happened That Night by Susanna Beard

What Happened That Night

"This was my debut novel, and I'm proud of it. It explores the story of a woman who suffers a terrible trauma - so terrible she has post-traumatic stress disorder and can't remember what happened. Afterwards, all she wants is to hide away from the world. But she discovers she can't - and she can't recover until she remembers what happened to her. Bit by bit, through walking a dog, meeting new people, and therapy, she confronts her past. "

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Books that influenced me

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin

Colum McCann

"I adored this book. It's a story of interlocking lives in New York, structured around a seminal event: the 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre by Frenchman Philippe Petit. I'm fascinated by the central theme - the proximity of disaster - and the way people react to it. The relationships lived out in the shadow of the Twin Towers are real, messy and tragic, and I admire McCann's writing enormously. "

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How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

How to Stop Time

Matt Haig

"The main character in this book 'has a condition' - he ages very slowly, and at the beginning he's well over four hundred years old. I love a premise like this (two of my books have main characters with 'conditions'.) Matt Haig has created a rollicking good yarn around this premise, and manages to include a love story, threat, suspense and a lot of humour in this book. It's far-reaching, thought-provoking and sensitive all at the same time. I think it's the only book I've read that I finished reading, only to start at the beginning again, immediately. And I enjoyed it just as much the second time. "

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The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

The House of the Spirits

Isabel Allende

"Though I read this a long time ago, it had a profound effect on me. I think it's the sense of spirituality that permeates the book, combined with a feeling of suspense, of not knowing quite what's going on. I love that, and I strive to be that kind of writer. I'm not there yet, but as a writer working hard at your skill, you know there's always a chance! "

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Personal favourites

The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden

The Greengage Summer

Rumer Godden

"This book captures a French summer perfectly for me - the beautiful villages, the smells, the sun beating down, the food...The story has many themes: coming-of-age, family relationships, an unfolding mystery - and is wonderfully written. Five naive English children find themselves on their own at a strange inn on the Marne when their mother is taken ill. A mysterious Englishman takes them under his wing, they are tolerated by the owners of the hotel and there are strange things going on."

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The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

The Plot

Jean Hanff Korelitz

"The Plot is a literary thriller about plagiarism - a fascinating subject for any author. A creative writing teacher 'steals' a plot from a student who has died. He becomes hugely successful, only to be accused of theft. His moral dilemma makes a thrilling story, stylishly written, humorous and gripping. The story reveals much about the life of an author, the highs and lows and the struggles - and the role of serendipity in success. Also, Jean says: “I wanted to be a literary novelist. But I realised that I liked plot.” That's just how I feel. "

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites

Hannah Kent

"This book taught me how important setting is to a story. Though I don't write historical fiction - and this one is definitely historical - the setting transported me to Iceland, which I visited soon after reading the novel. You can hardly read it without shivering. Set in 1829, it's the (true, though fictionalised here) story of the last public execution in Iceland. The condemned woman was held for the winter before her execution at a farm where she'd lived as a young girl, guarded by the farmer's wife and daughters. Life for them all was like the weather: brutal, dark and threatening, reflecting the ominous future for the main character. I've been back to Iceland three times more, and I will never forget this book. "

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The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen

The Unseen

Roy Jacobsen

"Another dark, northern setting drew me into this story. Set at the beginning of the 20th century on a tiny island called Barroy off the coast of Norway, this is the tale of a family trying to make a living from fishing and farming in a landscape where the weather - often brutal, sometimes magical - is in charge. This book is beautifully descriptive. It tells a fascinating story of a time gone by and an almost-forgotten lifestyle. My visit to a tiny fishing village on the coast of Norway was made twice as memorable from having read this book. "

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