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Desert Island Books

Desert Island Books

Based on the BBC radio programme ‘Desert Island Discs’, we’ve adapted this idea to ask castaways to list up to eight books, one song and one luxury item that they couldn’t do without on a desert island.

The rules are fairly simple, any type of book can be selected, but we ask that at least half are lesfic. Choices should be justified in a paragraph or two. Any type of music is allowed. The luxury item must be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island or allowing communication from outside.

Gill McKnight's Desert Island Books

My book choices

When Gaby asked me to list my favourites I was stumped. A hundred different titles leapt into my head, so I decided the best way was to wander along my bookshelves and see what memories popped out. Therefore, in no particular order, I offer up the most battered, dog-eared, well loved, and well read tattiness from my collection. If there’s anything listed you haven’t read before then grab it. These are all fabulous.

Murder at the Nightwood Bar‘ by Katherine V Forrest

One of the first lesfic books I read (mid 80s?) and broke the romance mold by being a lesbian detective novel. One of the main characters was recovering from cancer, so all in all a great change in pace from my usual fix at that time.

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Painted Moon‘ by Karin Kallmaker

All hail the Queen of lesbian romance, and rightly so. ‘Painted Moon’ was the first thing I read by Karin, though I could list any of her books as a fav. I love reading Kallmaker. It educates me. All her books are clever and engaging, airy and light, and I know that takes friggin’ hard work. Her writing is an art form. You walk away from a Kallmaker with a happy heart and a smile – now that’s genius.

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Bastard Out of Carolina‘ by Dorothy Allison

A hard hitting anthology and slice of queer history. Once upon a time, it wasn’t so easy out there, children. A copy should come free with every toaster oven.

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The Swashbuckler‘ by Lee Lynch

Lee is another big hitter for the queer community. I’m waving my battered Naiad copy here, and swearing that one day that woman is going to sign my entire Lee Lynch collection. Once Trump is gone and I can visit America again.

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The Tristaine series‘ by Cate Culpepper

Cate was a good friend and mentor. I love this series. We met though an online writing group before I was ever published. She made me laugh so much, introduced me to some great people, and I still miss her. There’s a gap where she used to stand, and nothing will ever fill it.

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Garden Spells‘ by Sarah Addison Allen 

My non-lesfic choice. It was toss up between this and ‘Practical Magic’ by Alice Hoffman. In fact, I might make this a joint spot. This is Urban fantasy, and Allen is the fluffier of the two. Hoffman writes deeper and is tougher. I mostly write in this genre, so I appreciate the quirkiness and timeless entertainment of their work.

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The Magician’s Assistant‘ by Ann Pratchett

Pratchett is a favourite. I loved ‘State of Wonder’, but ‘The Magician’s Assistant’ is on my list as the main character is lesbian. It’s a lovely feel good novel and I recommend it to anyone as a light weekend read.

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The Aud trilogy‘ by Nicola Griffith

What to say. It’s a rough ride into loss and pain and resurrection. A journey we all make in life. Excellent books, excellent writing. If these are not on your shelf buy them now, ‘The Blue Place’, ‘Stay’, ‘Always’. Like I said, excellent.

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My inanimate object choice

Luxury item is a cheat. He’s not inanimate. Wally is my dog and he’ll always be a luxury in my life. I found him under a car when he was seven weeks old and he imprinted on me. I moved to this island full time rather than give him up. He’s the most loving companion, more intelligent that all my friends (sorry guys), and he makes me laugh out loud several times a day. I love him to bits.

desert island books

My song choice

Impossible to pick. For me, sea surf and the jungle (complete with howler monkeys) would be enough. Quietness can sometimes be the best music. Where I live is very peaceful and I like to work in silence with just the everyday sounds of the village as a backdrop which can be a neighbour’s murmured conversation, distant sheep bells or birdsong. But if you insist, I’m currently hooked on Vivaldi’s cantata Cessate, omai cessate. I like the juxtaposition of beautifully refined music again the majesty of nature at its finest. I could sit on the sand gazing at an azure horizon and bliss out to this. Damn, should have brought wine instead of Wally…

About Gill McKnight 

Gill McKnight is Irish but lives in Lesbos, Greece. She can often be found traveling back and forth between Greece and Ireland in a rusty old camper van with her rusty wee dog. Gill enjoys writing, painting, and gardening. You can find her books here.


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