Friday, 22 June 2018

Debuts Dominate The Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Long-list

Goldsboro Books on Thursday 21st June announced the thirteen titles long-listed for the 2018 Glass Bell Award, a prize introduced last year to celebrate the best storytelling across all genres of contemporary fiction.

Seven debut novelists, including Gail Honeyman for her remarkable breakout bestseller Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Omar El Akkad, author of the disturbingly prophetic American War, compete against literary heavyweights John Boyne, Anthony Horowitz and Jon McGregor. The winner of the prize, which rewards 'compelling storytelling with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised', will receive both £2,000, and a beautiful, handmade, engraved glass bell, to be awarded at a party at the bookshop on 27th September 2018.

The full longlist is:

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Transworld)
American War by Omar El Akkad (Picador)
The Nix by Nathan Hill (Picador)
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperFiction)
The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz (Century)
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land (Michael Joseph)
The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd (Century)
You Don't Know Me by Imran Mahmood (Michael Joseph)
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (4th Estate)
The Ice by Laline Paull (4th Estate)
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (HarperCollins)
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell (Bloomsbury Raven)
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (4th Estate)

The prize is judged by Goldsboro Books founder and MD David Headley and his team at the bookshop, and the six finalists will be announced on 30th August.

David says: ‘This hugely impressive longlist celebrates the depth and breadth of contemporary fiction today. Featuring both established and debut authors, it reflects an extraordinary range of themes, styles and concerns, from religious intolerance, climate change and the flaws in our justice system, to the challenges of rural life and…ghosts! Whittling down these wonderful, pacey and varied novels to just six will be a tremendously daunting process.’

The winner of the 2017 Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award was Chris Cleave, for his extraordinary Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Sceptre), the moving and unflinching novel about the profound effects that the Second World War had on ordinary citizens back at home in Britain.

Celebrated novelist John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, is long-listed for his sweeping odyssey The Heart’s Invisible Furies which spans 70 years of modern Irish history.

Leading the debuts on the long-list is Nathan Hill’s intricate and multi-stranded mystery The Nix, in which an English professor searches for the truth about his estranged mother, who has been accused of domestic terrorism.

A remarkable debut novel about a young woman set apart from society, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman has been met with extraordinary success, hitting The Sunday Times #1 bestseller spot, won the British Book Awards Debut of the Year, and Book of the Year, as well as being long-listed for the Women’s Prize.

From the author of the international bestselling teenage spy Alex Rider series, and whose oeuvre also includes pastiches of both Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz is a unique and modern mystery, which sees Anthony himself help solve a crime.

Crime debuts have been very well represented. Ali Land’s chilling psychological suspense Good Me Bad Me, about the daughter of a child-killer, has also been a Richard & Judy pick.

Amy Lloyd won the Daily Mail/Penguin Random House First Novel Competition with her gripping psychological thriller The Innocent Wife, about a woman who falls in love with a convicted murderer.

Criminal barrister Imran Mahmood drew on his own experiences from the courtroom to write You Don’t Know Me, told as a monologue in which a young man accused of murder addresses the jury directly.

Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13, a meditation on rural life in the wake of the disappearance of a teenager, previously won the 2017 Costa Novel Award and the 2018 British Book Award Fiction Book of the Year, as well as being shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Goldsmith Prize, and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

The Ice is Laline Paull’s second novel, an environmentally conscious mystery set in the rapidly warming Arctic.

Previously known for critically acclaimed young adult and supernatural writing, Sarah Pinborough’s psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes had the entire internet demanding #wtfthatending

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell, was a departure for the historical novelist – a spine-tingling ghost story, in which a young pregnant widow moves into her late husband’s crumbling estate, where she is haunted by disturbingly lifelike wooden figures known as companions...

One of the most talked about debuts of 2017, My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is a harrowing story about love, abuse and wilderness.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

So Where do I get my inspiration from?

I’m often asked where I get my inspiration from, and although I do sometimes have a neat little anecdote, more often the truth is a messy, complicated mix of experiences I’ve had, places I’ve visited, books I’ve loved, and a large proportion of stuff that’s just plain old mysterious to me. Often, for the purposes of interview, I whittle it down to one single element of that. The Woman in Cabin 10, for example, when I’m asked about its genesis, I often tell a story about the first scene that came to me. I was home alone one night, in that state halfway between waking and sleeping, and I heard a noise, loud enough to make me wake up fully with my heart thumping, wondering if I was being burgled. 
I wasn’t, but later a scene closely based on that moment came to me - another woman, waking in the middle of the night on a ship, her heart thumping with adrenaline, certain that she’s heard a sound. Only in her case it wasn’t the thump of her drunk neighbour slamming his front door, but a splash. A loud splash. The kind of splash made by a body. 
In my imagination the woman runs to the veranda of her cabin and peers over the balcony ledge to see what looks like a woman’s body disappearing beneath the waves. Is she correct? Why did she jump to the worst case scenario when she heard that sound? What will happen if she’s right and is trapped on the boat with a killer?
The questions forming in my head told me that this was a book I wanted to write - and in the process of answering them, I formed some of the bones of the plot.  But the book also contains many other elements - news stories I had encountered, my frustration with the he said / she said cases that seemed to dominate the media in the year I was writing the book, my discovery of an odd quirk of law surrounding deaths at sea, and of course my fascination with Agatha Christie and her quirky, luxurious settings. 
The Death of Mrs Westaway is similar - except that I don’t have an anecdote about when the
idea came to me, because I truthfully can’t remember when I began to imagine a dilapidated house on a Cornish peninsular, and a bitter old woman drafting a vengeful will. But what I can tell you is something about where the character of my protagonist, Hal, came from. The seed of the character who became Hal was sown when I began to plan book four, and realised that all three of my previous crime books centred on basically innocent women who had been swept up in events beyond their control. Sometimes they make questionable decisions, but at their core they are normal people who simply fall, though no fault of their own, into extraordinary situations. 
For my fourth book I decided I wanted to do something different. I wanted to create a character who sets out to commit a crime, and in doing so, brings the extraordinary events of the plot down upon herself.
I began to think about the anti heroes and heroines in fiction that I loved. Tom Ripley, who lies and cheats and steals his way into a fortune. Richard Papin who spends a novel defending his decision to cover up a murder. Brat Farrar who sets out to claim an inheritance that isn’t his.
And I decided to create a character in that mould. Someone who lies and cheats and deceives their way through the book.   And so I created Hal. Someone who sets out to commit a crime - claiming an inheritance she knows full well is not intended for her - and in doing so sets in motion all the events of the plot. 

 I wanted her to be someone comfortable about reading others, and about using her knowledge of them to decipher what they want to hear. So I decided to make her a tarot reader - but a cynical one, one who relies on not on the messages in the cards, but in her powers of observation and guesswork to claim a psychic insight she does not have.
But I found myself liking Hal rather too much. I began to make excuses for her. I made her very young - just 21 at the beginning of the book. I took away her friends and family in order to leave her as destitute as possible and I put her in physical danger from a loan shark. By the time I sat down to write, I knew that Hal was not going to be the heartless manipulator I had intended when I began to think about the book. But when I came to write the first chapter, I did something I was not intending on doing. I gave her a code of ethics - and in doing so I made the entire enterprise, Hal’s whole, complicated con scheme, immensely more complicated. For now Hal was not just in conflict with the dark, dysfunctional family she sets out to defraud, but with herself too.
Conflict, we are often told, is the root of a compelling scene. On that basis Mrs Westaway should be a very compelling book indeed, since Hal is at war with most of the characters in it, including herself. I won’t presume to judge on that score, but it was certainly great fun to write.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


"Forty-one years ago, William McIlvanney rocked the British literary world with Laidlaw, a gritty and socially conscious crime novel that brought Glasgow to life more vividly than anything before. This year's longlistees for the McIlvanney Prize demonstrate how modern Scottish crime writing has flourished from those seeds. From debutants to authors with more than 20 books, spy thrillers to long-running detective series, nineteenth-century mysteries to futuristic space station noir, there's an amazing range of talent on show."
Craig Sisterson – Chair of the Judges 2018
‘I went to Bloody Scotland and I was just knocked out... this event was so friendly, so supportive I was honestly overwhelmed’
William McIlvanney – speaking on BBC Scotland, 2012
Two years ago the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award was renamed the McIlvanney Prize in memory of William McIlvanney who established the tradition of Scottish detective fiction. This year his son, Liam McIlvanney, has made the longlist for the 2018 McIlvanney Prize.

The complete longlist, revealed today, has been chosen by an independent panel of readers:
Follow the Dead by Lin Anderson (Macmillan),
Places in the Darkness by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown)
Presumed Dead  by Mason Cross (Orion)
The Man Between by Charles Cumming (Harper Collins)
The Loch of the Dead by Oscar De Muriel (Michael Joseph),
Perfect Death by Helen Fields (Harper Collins)
Now She’s Gone by Alison James (Bookouture)
The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney (Harper Collins)
No Time to Cry by James Oswald (Headline)
The Suffering of Strangers by Caro Ramsay (Severn House)
The Hunter by Andrew Reid (Headline)
The Photographer by Craig Robertson (Simon & Schuster)

It features an intriguing mix of previous winners, established crime writing luminaries, some emerging talent and a debut.  The award recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing, includes a prize of £1,000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones.

The judges for the next round will be chaired by Craig Sisterson and include comedian and crime fiction fan, Susan Calman who like Craig is joining the panel for a second year and crime reviewer, Alison Flood.

The finalists will be revealed at the beginning of September and the winner kept under wraps until the ceremony itself which this year will take place at the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling and followed by a torchlight procession – led by the winner accompanied by Denise Mina and Val McDermid – to their first event at the Albert Halls.

Both the opening ceremony and the torchlight procession are open to the public but tickets are selling fast and capacity is less than at the castle last year so people are urged to book them now.

Previous winners are Denise Mina with The Long Drop 2017, Chris Brookmyre with Black Widow 2016, Craig Russell with The Ghosts of Altona in 2015, Peter May with Entry Island in 2014, Malcolm Mackay with How A Gunman Says Goodbye in 2013 and Charles Cumming with A Foreign Country in 2012.
For further information or to request press tickets please contact 07767 431 846
@brownlee_donald @bloodyscotland