Barbara Taylor Bradford: The prolific novelist on love, Emma Thompson, and why she can't be friends with people who don't read

 

You have been involved in a number of campaigns to increase literacy and are an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, encouraging young people to read. What did books mean to you as a child?

As a little girl, I was the only child of four, in my first classroom in my church school, who could read. Books were my companions. I had a library card as soon as I was old enough. By the time I was 12 years old, I'd read every Dickens book that had been written – although I didn't always understand them. When I go to somebody's house and I look around – if there are no books, I think, 'Oh, do I really want to know these people?'. Books were my friends and they've taught me about life and have taken me on adventures. Wuthering Heights is still my favourite – it's one of the greatest novels in English literature.

You've recently released the 150-page book Hidden and your longer novel Cavendon Hall. Did you work on the two projects simultaneously?

I'm constantly asked, "When is the next book?". A book the length of Hidden can be written in a few weeks if you go at it day and night. Cavendon Hall took almost eight months. My publishers said to me, when you take a break can you write us something short for an e-book, because you're very popular on them. So I wrote it for Quick Reads, another charity that promotes literacy. You see, people get out of the habit of reading and then get intimidated by a long book. Now it's the number one e-book!

People say that a stint as a journalist is the best training for a novelist. Did your time at the Yorkshire Evening Post inform your later novels?

Absolutely. I think I went to the best university in the world, which is a newspaper office. I am still a journalist in my mind and I write for many of the British papers. I think that when you go out and do a story, you see life. And that's what being a novelist is: it's writing about people.

Love is a pretty fundamental theme across all your books. How would you describe love to the uninitiated?

It's like feeling safe and being part of another person.

You are famous for your heroines. Who do you think are some good examples of female role models in the public eye right now?

I think if a girl wants to become an actress, she should look at Emma Thompson. She seems to be fun and straight in her talk, not devious. I think if they want to have a writer as a role model, it should be me! I'm down-to-earth, practical, honest and straightforward. But of course, they do want trendy and cool don't they... Throw some names at me and I'll tell you if they're good role models.

Um, Adele?

Oh well, yes, I think that she's a young woman who seems to be very straightforward and honest. Of course, I love her voice. I think she could be a role model, yes indeed. Usually it's somebody in show business because apparently young girls prefer to watch television than read books.

How about Katy Perry?

I don't know a lot about her. She's American, isn't she? I think another role model is the Duchess of Cambridge. How about her? She's very well dressed, she shows a lot of kindness, and she certainly has a great deal of patience.

Biography

Barbara Taylor Bradford, 80, began her career as a reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Post. Selling over 30 million copies, her debut novel, ‘A Woman of Substance’, is one of the 10 bestselling novels of all time. Her 29th novel, ‘Cavendon Hall’, and her Quick Reads book, ‘Hidden’, are out now

Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model of a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution