Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
The very first chapter book I read – and I still remember reading 30 pages the first night and feeling incredibly proud of myself – was the one that changed my life. This was the moment I realised I loved reading and, I suppose, started me on the journey to writing my own stories. And there’s definitely a dollop of Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and their friends in my latest book Boot.
The Three Investigators by lots of different writers
I was a bit obsessed with these detective books when I was young. The adventures of three young detectives in a Californian seaside town, they solved mysteries using brains, science, gadgets and stake-outs. And unlike modern series, when something happened in one book, it was pretty much forgotten about by the next. Growing up in the 80s, these were the book equivalent of films I loved, like The Goonies and Explorers. (look for this series in second-hand bookshops and libraries)
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
These were probably the first books I read as a series in order, from first book to last – making sure I had one ready to go as soon as I’d finished the other. I’d actually been resistant because for some reason I’d decided I wouldn’t enjoy The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. No way was I going to give it a go. Then my best friend read it, so I decided it was cool enough to read. And once I did, I couldn’t stop.
The X-Men Marvel Comics
I discovered Marvel comic books when I was about 10 thanks to a friend of mine, and particularly fell for the dynamic story of the school for teenage mutants run by Professor X. I’ve really enjoyed revisiting them recently, using my son’s love of comic books as an excuse to but lots of old ones for him – after I’ve read them first. The art, storylines, characters, villains, action, humour and fantastic, gripping, jumpsuit silliness is something that still inspires me today.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
When I hit the teenage years, the choice wasn’t there in the way it is now. So a lot of us would have jumped on to Douglas Adams. The astoundingly funny, creative, surreal, intelligent, mind-blowing story of Arthur Dent blundering across the universe with his alien friend Ford Prefect remains my favourite book to this day. I can open any page and read any line and it’ll be as fresh to me now as it was the first time I read it.
Shane Hegarty was a journalist and editor of the Irish Times, and before that worked in radio and the music business. Now a full-time writer, he is the author of the bestselling middle-grade series, Darkmouth – which is currently being developed into a big screen animation by Oscar-nominated director Douglas Sweetland and Moana Head of Story, Dave Pimentel. Darkmouth was nominated for the Waterstones Prize. Boot is his first series for younger readers. He lives near Dublin with his wife and a brutally honest young readers focus group – otherwise known as his four children.