Fiona Hardy’s brilliant debut novel How to Make a Movie in 12 Days is, in part, an homage to her long-held love of all things film. (If you couldn’t tell by the title, just check out the 20-page school holidays movie guide at the back of the book.) Here, Fiona shares five films that kick-started her movie madness.

How to Make a Movie in 12 Days began its life four years ago, as a short story about an eleven-year-old in the nineties who was going to make a horror movie in a pre-digital era. Unfortunately, writing a “historical” novel would have involved too much research, not enough movie-watching, and was very clearly an excuse for me to write tens of thousands of words regarding my feelings about Muppets instead of an actual book with a plot, so I changed the setting, put in a storyline, and thus my book came out into the world. But now, I do have a chance to talk about my favourite childhood movies, so here we go:

Spaceballs

I recorded this off the TV and watched it on my VCR almost every day during the school holidays from the age of nine until, presumably, it exploded from overuse. I hadn’t actually seen any of the Star Wars movies that Spaceballs was parodying, but I knew a good pun about “combing the desert” and “jam the radar” when I saw one, and was just scandalised enough by the mild swearing and smooching to feel Very Adult during each viewing. It also gave me an early introduction to the value of a good movie reference. (Lol, “Snotty” instead of “Scotty”. What kind of genius comes up with these things?!)

The Peanut Butter Solution

My favourite thing to do as a kid was take five bucks to the video shop and hire ten weekly VHS movies. I’d spend hours perusing the shelves, but inevitably always end up getting The Peanut Butter Solution, a Canadian movie about a kid who gets so scared he loses his hair. He makes a special potion using peanut butter to grow it all back, but then his hair grows so much he is kidnapped and used as a paintbrush farm. Very normal!

The Little Mermaid

The songs on this soundtrack still absolutely slap to this day, and I adore the ocean so much that I’d do almost anything to live underneath it with a lot of singing fish. It’s hard as an adult to enjoy a movie about a girl who loses her tail just for a boy, and also why doesn’t she just write down some messages to him if she can’t speak, and also as a parent I cannot even slightly approve of sixteen-year-olds getting married. Basically, you know you’re a grown-up when you’re on King Triton’s side instead of Ariel’s.

The Goonies

There’s nothing as solidly satisfying as a group of kids who get to defeat rich jerks, escape from long-dead pirates AND the mob, solve puzzles, annoy each other, go on a waterslide, make a new friend, and end up on a ship full of gold and jewels. Even writing that down has put me in a good mood. It’s the ultimate adventure movie.

Annie

You know, as an adult, I’m really not into musicals. I don’t know what it is about growing up that can ruin things you used to find fun; as a kid, I loved singing along to movies, and one I really adored was Annie, the story of an orphan girl with a hard knock life, a smart mouth and fists to match, and who gets adopted by a cynical billionaire called Daddy Warbucks. There’s kidnapping, glitz, fireworks, Tim Curry, and a preppy 1930s wardrobe I was insanely jealous of. What’s not to love about this—or movies in general? Here’s to all our childhood favourites, and remembering all the best lines decades later.

Catch Fiona at Readings Doncaster on Friday 11 October for the Middle Fiction Book Club to discuss How to Make a Movie in 12 Days.