Divine Invention by Linden Forster

Earlier this month, author Linden Forster released his debut novel, Divine Invention.

Here Linden tells us what inspired him to write the first novel in his The Hero’s Arc series.

Why bother writing a book? There are so many books out there for people to read. More books being written now than ever before. Stories being written that you couldn’t write half as well. But, none of the legions of writers out there could write your stories as well as you either (or so I like to believe). So I think most writers write, because they have something that only they can say or a story only they can tell.

I started writing because I wanted to make people laugh. That was the beginning. When I started, the story was almost an afterthought. I just needed a world with some events and some characters to play with. I wanted to pull and bend concepts and reality in a way that meant it needed to be set in another world. So I knew I wanted to write fantasy. I just needed a place to start, and sitting at the back of a classroom I was thinking about how things get their names (specifically how the first boat got its name) and I noticed if you took half of float and the b from buoyancy you could make boat. So in my world, when the world’s first boat gets invented it took the other letters to make its name (but I dropped the ‘u’ because I preferred how floyancy looked on the page).

I don’t think it is a huge surprise that I chose an island community to be the origin of the world’s first boat. Writers love islands.  It is a simple solution for creating an isolated set of characters and rules that the writer can get to grips with, and then when the characters need to leave, all you have to d o is give them a floyancy. I didn’t consider that when I first started writing though, I just thought it logical that the peoples who invented the boat should be from an island. I also didn’t realise that the island I was writing about was a metaphor for our planet. The invention of the boat is a necessity for them as with overpopulation they have all but exhausted their natural resources.

Although the first boat has only recently been invented, the rest of the world’s technologies are in a more advanced state. Forges exist, castles too and reading and writing are common. That’s because no one had ever needed a boat before. I found myself writing about a world where it is more commonplace for the pressures on human advancement to be related to what is needed rather than what is wanted. I think in the real world, we are guilty of losing sight of that.

On the surface, Divine Invention is a light-hearted story, but beneath it all, I do feel that I’m writing about real issues, real people and real humanity, and that’s why I write.

Divine Invention is available to buy on Amazon now.

Preview: This is it! Scotland’s literary talent in the spotlight at cabaret event

Can’t wait to attend this Literature Alliance Event tomorrow!

Best-selling author Louise Welsh and award-winning poet William Letford are set to headline an inaugural literary cabaret taking place this month, which shines a light on the nation’s literary scene in 2017.

                                      Author, Louise Welsh

The fast-paced, 90-minute show – called This Is It! – will highlight the year’s literary happenings across five strands – publishing, book festivals, school and public libraries, writers, and the international perspective.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs will open this first public event from Literature Alliance Scotland (LAS) – the nation’s largest network of literature and languages organisations – on Wednesday 23 November from 7pm at Central Hall, Edinburgh.

Speakers include, respectively, Canongate Books’ Publishing Director Francis Bickmore, Adrian Turpin, Artistic Director of Wigtown Book Festival, and Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive of Scottish Libraries Information Council.

Poet William Letford, who hails from Stirling, will cover writer development and perform a reading of his poem This Is It from which the event takes its name.

                Poet, William Letford

Closing the show will be Glasgow-based author, Louise Welsh, who will speak about Scotland’s books and literature on the international stage as well as the importance of literary exchange between nations.

In addition, attendees will be able to browse and buy books from Scotland’s writers and publishers courtesy of Blackwell’s Bookshop, Edinburgh while librarians from South Lanarkshire’s digital library programme ‘ACTIVEe’ will be on hand to demonstrate 3D printers which are now available in all of Scotland’s public libraries.

Peggy Hughes, Chair of LAS said: “With over 40 book festivals a year, ambitious new publishing houses such as 404ink emerging, stalwarts such as Birlinn celebrating 25 years, another Man Booker shortlisting for Ali Smith, Muriel Spark’s centenary on the horizon, not to mention the many, many Scottish books and authors that are going into the world every day and taking our stories and voices with them, it seemed high time that we took a moment to celebrate the wealth of our literature sector and shout about its cultural and social value.”
“At a time when Scotland’s Culture Strategy is being developed, it’s vital that we champion our sector and all the talented people working within and for it. Our literary cabaret is a chance for everyone with an interest in Scotland’s literature and book community to gather together and say, ‘This is it, this is a snapshot of what’s been happening this year’. It’s about carving out a space to celebrate the wonderful success, highlight the exciting potential and address the challenges. That’s why we’re so delighted that Fiona Hyslop is officially opening the event and giving this rich and vibrant sector the recognition it deserves.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland’s distinguished literary culture is a notable part of our national identity. It also attracts visitors to Scotland and raises our cultural profile around the world. “I am pleased that the Literature Alliance Scotland is extending its reach beyond its membership of key individuals and agencies which promote writers and publishers to engage with the public.

“We are doing all we can to support the literary sector to ensure this rich legacy is maintained and strengthened in future years. We do this through for example our support for Creative Scotland, literacy, libraries, festivals, Book Week Scotland, the First Minister’s Reading Challenge and the post of Makar.”

Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing, Creative Scotland, said: “We have a unique, distinctive and rich cultural asset in literature that not only makes an enormous impact to people’s lives in Scotland but also enhances our reputation internationally. From poets to storytellers, screenwriters and playwrights the quantity and quality of writing being published here is truly inspiring. This is It! and Literature Alliance Scotland creates an important opportunity to bring together authors, publishers, libraries, festivals and literary organisations, and champion the work being done to make literature more visible to a greater number of people. We look forward to continuing this work with Scottish Government, partner agencies and individuals to create the best conditions to support a thriving literature and publishing sector in Scotland and internationally.”

Tickets for This Is It! are £7 /£6 – https://this-is-it-literary-cabaret-2017.eventbrite.com/

Dundee Literary Festival 2017

Hip hip hooray! Tomorrow marks the beginning of my favourite bookie event, Dundee Literary Festival, which takes places in my native city.

This year’s event which takes it’s inspiration from the great thinker, biologist, mathematician and classics scholar, D’Arcy Thompson whose book On Growth and Form, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, peers inside the books and stories featured at the event, analysing their structure, form and secrets too.

Jam packed with literary stars from crime writer Denise Mina, Man Booker Prize shortlister, Graeme Macrae Burnet and Tracy Beaker author and Honorary Graduate of the University of Dundee, Jacqueline Wilson – there really is something for everything at this extraordinary book festival.

I’m looking forward to attending a number of events over the long weekend, including a writing tutorial with YA author Joan Lennon on Friday, Literature in Britain Today with Tim Robertson, Director of the Royal Society of Literature on Saturday and Beyond Our Times with Irish author Sara Baume and Journalist Mark O’Connell.

It’s going to be a fabulous few days and I’m looking forward to reviewing the events that I see, next week!

For more information and to book tickets, visit: https://literarydundee.co.uk/festival

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017

Once a year something magical happens in Edinburgh. All the bookish people in the world gather together in Charlotte Square, a beautiful part of the city named after the wife of King George III. It seems a fitting place to hold the world’s biggest book festival, a place where literary royalty, and their admirers, assemble. Saturday marked the official opening of Edinburgh International Book Festival. Julia Donaldson, Val McDermid, Paula Hawkins and Anthony Horowitz were all in camp, and despite the drizzly weather, the atmosphere was electric.

I started my day with the festival’s Opening Up event with authors Carl MacDougall and Frank Cottrell Boyce, who were chaired by Sally Magnusson. Both authors were there to talk about their latest short story collections, MacDougall’s Someone Always Robs The Poor and Cottrell Boyce’s still to be named Scrabble themed collection, which is due to be released this Autumn. Readings from both books were stunning, with MacDougall’s words moving me to tears. I look forward to picking up both collections, very soon.

My second event of the day was Julia Hobsbawn’s Too Much Information. Chaired by Bob McDevitt the event explored the themes of Hobsbawn’s book Fully Connected and examined how human beings are coping with the dizzying amounts of digital information that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. It was an interesting event which highlighted just how many people are struggling to keep afloat in an age when we are drowning in data.

Next up was the Paula Cocozza and Gail Honeyman Wild at Heart event at the Festival’s Writing Retreat. The authors were both there to discuss their debut novels; Cocozza’s How to be Human and Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Chaired by Lee Randall, the event featured lots of interesting discussion on the themes of mental health issues and loneliness.

My final event of the day was Sarah Moss & Helen Sedgwick’s Small Kids: Small Problems, Big Kids: Big Problems. I’ve been a fan of Sedgwick’s since reading The Comet Seekers (and interviewing her for The Scots Magazine in 2016), but I was completely new to Sarah Moss’s work. Both Moss’s latest novel The Tidal Zone and Sedgwick’s dystopian offering, The Growing Season, examine the complexities of motherhood. With beautiful, thought provoking readings from both authors, this event was my favourite of the day.

I left Charlotte Square with a head full of words and a TBR pile the length of my arm. I’m already looking forward to returning this Friday, for round two.

For further information about the Edinburgh International Book Festival, visit: https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/

 

 

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

I love reading a good thriller, so when I heard that Holly Seddon had a new one coming out this summer, I knew I was in for a treat. After devouring her novel Try Not To Breathe last year, I was desperate to get my hands on a preview copy of her latest book Don’t Close Your Eyes. The novel tells the story of sisters Robin and Sarah, whose ordinary lives are changed forever when a new family arrives in town. The book, which alternates between the girls’ past and present, is a gripping psychological thriller about childhood wounds and how they can last a lifetime.

Here’s the blurb…

Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…

And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship…

The book is full of twists and turns which will have readers turning the pages late into the night. I read it in two sittings and couldn’t put it down until I’d finished that final, last page.

Don’t Close Your Eyes, which is out on the 6th of July, is bound to be a huge hit this summer. Make sure you get your hands on a copy!

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon is published by Corvus.

You can pre-order a copy on Amazon.