'Jo March made me want to be a novelist'

Jo March made me want to be a novelist

Talking books with Hayley Doyle, former West End actress, author and founder of Hayley's Comet Theatre School, Dubai

Published: Fri 7 Sep 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 7 Sep 2018, 2:00 AM

What books are you reading at the moment?
I've just started Educated by Tara Westover, an autobiography by a woman who educated herself at 18 after no schooling as a child. I've also just finished Something In the Water by Catherine Steadman. For anyone who loves a thriller, this is the one to look out for. And now, I have Tom Hanks' book of short stories, Uncommon Type, on my shelf, which is crying out for me to start reading it!
A book that changed your life - and why?
One Day by David Nicholls. Its deep exploration of characters inspired me as a writer so much. I laughed, I cried and I completely related to so many moments in it: young love and trampled dreams, finding and losing happiness, and finding it again. But, I recently read Swing Time by Zadie Smith and all I can say is, it is everything. Smith is a genius, and I lived and breathed every single scene from London to New York to Africa. The character of the narrator's mother will stay with me forever.  

Name an underrated book - and why you'd recommend it.
The Wrong Boy by Willy Russell. I don't know if it's underrated but I don't know many people who have read it. It is astounding... real, funny, poignant. It's also heartbreaking how somebody's whole life can change because of one moment, and being in the wrong place; it is written humorously but also with complete and brutal honesty. And if you fancy an adventure, Time and Time Again by Ben Elton is a lot of fun: very creative and playing with history around 1914.
Your favourite literary character?
Jo March from Little Women. I've loved that book ever since I was a little girl and always wanted to be a novelist like Jo. Her fight to be respected as an intelligent woman is amazing, especially how she perseveres... I love her warmth, ambition, love for her family, strong will - and how she fell in love with a man who was her intellectual equal.  

Your favourite quote?
"You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are."  The quote is by The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I work with a lot of children and I want them to always feel like their ideas are important, that their imagination is to be cherished. No matter how crazy or silly it feels, they should be free to ask questions, experiment and be in an environment where they can be who they are, not who they think they should be. We are all unique and we should celebrate that.

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