Tag Archives: plot

Review: ‘Robbing the Dead’ by Tana Collins

A small Scottish university town is in thrown into chaos following a grizzly murder and a targeted bombing. Rumours abound of a terrorist plot which may or may not be linked to the disappearance of a soldier and lecturer.

DCI Jim Carruthers, having recently moved back to Castletown to get over his marriage break-up, finds himself dropped into the middle of a seemingly ever-expanding investigation.

In order to stop the violence and solve the crime, Carruthers must work with DS Andrea Fletcher – who has her own problems – to catch the perpetrators. However, the appearance of Jim’s old enemy, terror expert McGhee, adds further complications to the investigation.

Robbing the Dead poses many interesting questions particularly in our ever-changing world. Recent events – Brexit, the attack on London last week and the death of Martin McGuinness – added so much depth to this story.

There are lots of narrative strands to keep the reader interested and

Tana Collins has created two really compelling characters in Carruthers and Fletcher and there is plenty of potential for them to appear in more books.

Vic x

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Guest Post: David McCaffrey on Beat Sheets

I’ve already started arranging the next Noir at the Bar NE. It may not be until February but we have more than half of the performers booked. One of those readers is David McCaffrey who has been very complimentary about Noir at the Bar.

David has very kindly taken time out of his busy schedule to chat to us about beat sheets. My thanks go to David for sharing his wisdom – see you in February. 

Vic x

Guest Post: David McCaffrey on Beat Sheets

Christopher Vogler wrote a book called ‘The Writers Journey‘, a writing textbook that focuses on the theory that most stories can be boiled down to a series of narrative structures and character archetypes. Basically he says that every story told has been told before and that every fictional story consists of the same components.

I explored this once in my blog where I discussed the writing process, but the gist of it is this –

1.) The hero is introduced in his/her ORDINARY WORLD
2.) The CALL TO ADVENTURE.
3.) The hero is reluctant at first. (REFUSAL OF THE CALL.)
4.) The hero is encouraged by the Wise Old Man or Woman. (MEETING WITH THE MENTOR.)
5.) The hero passes the first threshold.  (CROSSING THE THRESHOLD.)
6.) The hero encounters tests and helpers. (TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES.)
7.)  The hero reaches the innermost cave.  (APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE.)
8.) The hero endures the supreme ORDEAL.
9.) The hero seizes the sword. (SEIZING THE SWORD, REWARD)
10.)  THE ROAD BACK.
11.) RESURRECTION.
12.)  RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR

Every story can be structured around the above, not always in the same order, not always every element, but they are there in one form or another.

In line with these components, it is important that you plug variables into your story before you start writing for one simple reason: so you don’t back yourself into a corner.

It’s really easy to begin writing a story off the top of your head or with the most basic of narratives and think that you can just string all the various plot points together.  And some authors can do this (the talented John Nicholson being one of them), but many need a structure, an outline of the aforementioned variables in order to understand where their story starts, begins and ends. This outline can prevent you ending up somewhere inescapable.

For me, writers block is not having the research in which to frame and support your story. I learnt right at the beginning that research is key, especially for the kinds of novels I write as they are mostly psychological thrillers that require an element of philosophy and detail to make them believable.

In line with this, you need something that is high concept, meaning it can be described in one or two words.

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.” This tells you exactly what ‘Jaws 2 is about in one sentence.

“His crimes – unspeakable. His death – inevitable. His suffering – just beginning.”

My debut novel ‘Hellbound had the above tagline and in only a few words gives you an idea of what the book is about.

Once you have your idea and concept, it needs to be backed up by that most important of elements – research. You need to be steeped in your subject matter in order to sell your concept realistically. If your story outline is a skeleton, your research adds flesh to its bones. It fleshes out the whole idea so you begin to see what it will truly look like once complete.

Then we get to what I was taught is the most important element of writing, at least for me – having a beat sheet.

Once I have the above in place, I write a beat sheet that consists of bullet points with key elements of each chapter in a very simplified form acting as my map. Bestselling author Steve Alten once said that a beat sheet was like lining up dominoes, so that if you push over the first one it will travel right to the end meaning that if the beat sheet is tight then your story will have every element in place before you start putting one word on paper.

It’s better to get your beat sheet right before you start then begin writing and realise that you have a character who disappeared inexplicably halfway through the story or a massive plot hole you hadn’t considered.

Not having those dominoes lined up can result in you becoming frustrated and potentially lost in your own writing process.

Granted, a beat sheet can also be classed as an outline and many authors hate writing outlines because it requires all the underlying planning to have been done to answer all the difficult questions about your story. But with your research you would have the answers to those questions and the rest is a piece of cake.

Your beat sheet doesn’t have to be detailed. It can be one or two words – sex, Joseph dies, Maggie drives to work… as long as you know what it means, that’s enough.

The beat sheet stops you having to confront the most horrific of questions – what shall I write next?

Your research and a tight beat sheet can prevent this most awful of writing circumstances. With it, you will always know where you are in your story, what happens next, what will further the dramatic tension etc.

And because they are just bullet points, if something is moving too slow or there is too much action in a particular scene, you can simply move the bullet points around until you are happy and the beat sheet is tight again.

The beat sheet not only tells you what the scene is, it tells you why it’s there in the first place. And for me, the best thing of all is with a beat sheet you are simply going into those bullet points and just fleshing them out, adding narrative around them because the framework is already there.

You might veer off as you go as different story beats come to mind or naturally develop with the story. This is the beauty of using a beat sheet: they leave you free to explore and flesh out the narrative that drives the story forward. As long as you end you where you intended at the very beginning, it isn’t as important how you get there – the story will take care of itself.

Make the beat sheet clear and simple. Remember, this is your document. You’re not trying to sell the story to anyone else, you’re just trying to get your head around the story as a whole.

Besides, it’s always nice after you’ve written a three hundred page novel to look back and see that it just started out as a forty bullet point piece of A4. You would probably struggle in reverse if asked to summarise your story in forty bullet points, but it goes to show that as Christopher Vogler believed, every story can be boiled down to key elements.

And we thought we all had original ideas!!!

Guest Post: Chris Ord on ‘The First Novel?’

In my job as a copy editor, many manuscripts are sent to me for critical evaluation. Few have left me as impressed as ‘Becoming‘ by Chris Ord. Chris approached me earlier this year and I had the pleasure of reading his debut novel prior to its release. 

Becoming‘ is now available to download or buy in physical form and, although it’s a YA novel, it really is one that I’d happily recommend for adults too. Chris is here to talk to us about his experience as a first time novelist and share some of the lessons he’s learned. Thanks for taking the time to appear on the blog, Chris – I can’t wait to read your next novel.

Vic x

Becoming

The first novel?
By Chris Ord

 

On September 23rd 2016 I published my first novel ‘Becoming’. It feels strange, almost surreal typing that, as only a year ago my words were filled with nothing more than intent. Now they fizz with the excitement of achievement, the realisation of something I have wanted to do all my life. There are mixed emotions though. There is pride and satisfaction, but apprehension too. Now the book is out I appreciate I’m revealing my creation to others – friends, relatives, and strangers. I’m exposing a bit of my soul. Now is the time for judgement and thick skin. I loved writing ‘Becoming’ and if others love it too that is a bonus. I wanted to write a story that I would enjoy reading, one that engages and entertains, but also challenges and provokes. If I achieve any combination of these I’ll be happy.

Except I have a confession, ‘Becoming’ isn’t my first novel. It’s the first I have published. I have another buried in my hard drive, seen only by the handful that ever will. I took a long time to write that novel, about twenty five years. Twenty four and a half of those I was gathering thoughts and intention. I called it research and planning. In truth, I was dithering. I had lots of ideas, some I wrote down, most I didn’t and forgot. There was one that kept coming back, and I decided there must be a reason so it had to be the story.

Chris Ord

I reached the age of forty five and two family bereavements forced reflection and an existential crisis. Loss and grief made me realise I had to take chances before it was too late. So I gave up my full-time job in August 2015 to write. The years of planning were over. The moment was now. I was going to write that book. It was a risk, but I knew it was time to do what I love.

Most of the advice I read was to write what you know. This reassured me, as I needed all the structure and safety I could get. I was stepping into the unknown, trying to find an approach that would work, a method that would hold my hand. Writing from personal experience made perfect sense.

I developed my characters and my hero, someone whose story I had wanted to tell. I had a scenario. It was loose at first, but I was fine with that as I wanted the story to unfold and develop. I was looking to keep the process exciting and fresh, and I figured the more I made a storyboard before I began, the more barriers I was putting in my way. I know some writers like to plot their stories from the start, and I suspect with some types of novels it is essential. I don’t. Each to their own, as you have to find what works for you. I wanted to get the words down and see where they would take me.

I gave myself a minimum daily target of 1,000 words which I stuck to and often exceeded. The first draft flowed and the writing was fun. It was like a series of puzzles, and I love problem-solving. I had tough days, and scrapped a lot of words, but I kept going, spurred on by the growing sense of achievement. It was exciting and motivating to see the words mount and the story develop. I was disciplined, and above all else I would say that is the key quality you need to finish a novel. I suspect there are many great unfinished novels that would be completed with more structure and discipline. Page after page created my new world. Every day I would escape there and build, moulding and reshaping, bringing new characters to life, and getting rid of others. It was an exhilarating journey, and finally, the day came, I completed the first draft and was overcome with joy and relief. I had done it. I had written a novel, or at least a rough, unfinished first draft of a novel.

I asked myself – what do I do now? We all have someone who reads our work first. It has to be someone you trust, but who won’t sugarcoat the feedback. The early drafts are the beginning, but far from the end, and you need a first editor to tell you what does and doesn’t work and why. Eventually you will need a good copy-editor to look at a draft you’re happy with. External, professional input is vital, as no matter how good you think your work is it can be better and there are things you will miss. Before my draft ever got that far I wanted to give it to someone else for the first judgement.

I read somewhere you should never give your work to anyone you share Christmas dinner with. In my case we share a bed. Some would urge caution at giving your unfinished work to your wife. They may tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to. Thankfully, Julie doesn’t sweeten her feedback. She’s an English graduate, well-read, a teacher and, more importantly I trust and value her opinion. She’s honest, usually more than I would like. I used the term brutal to describe her comments, but she prefers honest and constructive.

I gave my wife a polished draft of my debut convinced she would love it. She was impressed, enjoyed it, and there were many things she admired about the novel. I was relieved. The quality of the writing was much higher than she’d expected, and I recall the phrase ‘it does read like a proper book’. My excitement was short-lived though. It was good, and there was a lot to build on, but it wasn’t there yet. It didn’t work. The characters and writing were strong, but the story was flimsy, too weak. This stung me, so I read it again, determined to convince myself she was wrong. She was right, as always. Her candour and constructive criticisms helped me realise where the faults lay in the book. I had followed the advice and written what I knew, but it was too personal, and though the characters were strong I had been so desperate to capture them that I had wrapped their relationship around a dull plot. It read more like a screenplay than a novel, and there was too much dialogue and not enough action. I had tried to use the characters as a vehicle for my ideas and it felt contrived. In sum, it was a valiant first attempt, but it wasn’t good enough, at least not yet. I could do better.

This realisation was a blow. I had put months of my life into this, and the excitement of completion had convinced me that this was the one. Yet time and reflection away from the draft, along with some objective feedback left me with a big decision. Did I persevere with the draft and make it better? Could I rewrite it, make it more literary and less cinematic? How could I improve the story-line and make it more dramatic and compelling? Failing all of that, should I put it to one side, learn from the experience, move on and write something else? I guess these are the questions writers ask all the time, or at least should.

This was a learning process and though I hadn’t succeeded with this novel, at least I knew where I had gone wrong. I had followed the advice and written what I knew, but for me this reassuring structure had been a constraint. For the ‘known’ I had drawn on the autobiographical too much, taken personal experiences and woven a shaky plot around them. Sometimes this works. In my case it didn’t. My desire was to bring particular characters to life, but in doing so I had overlooked a critical element of all good writing, the story. Of course, characters are important, but readers love a good narrative. More importantly, I hadn’t written a book I would want to read, I had written one I thought I should write. I had played safe and sometimes safe is dull.

I made a bold decision, set the manuscript to one side, buried it in a cyber vault. I decided to start again, write another, something different, based around a wild and imaginary scenario and setting. I focused on the story and let my imagination run free. This novel would not be about what I knew, but would be one that I would love to read. I kept my structure of determination and daily discipline, and allowed things to develop and unfold. This was the journey that led to ‘Becoming’, my second novel, but the first I am happy with, and have published. The failed first attempt was very important though. Without the failure and the lessons taken from it, ‘Becoming’ might never have been written.

What have I learned from my experience of writing my first novel? Discipline and humility are two of the most important qualities you need to be a writer. Being honest, even brutal, with yourself may be the next. Criticism of your writing will hurt, but being critical from draft one will save you more pain in the long term. Trust the opinion of someone who will be frank with you about your work. Don’t let ego or excitement overcome common sense and critical judgement. Give yourself plenty of time between edits, as it is good to look at something again with fresh eyes. At times it is important to admit to yourself that something doesn’t work. The first novel you complete may not be the first you should let the world see. Readers are often strangers who owe you nothing. If your first attempt makes the grade I applaud you, but there’s no shame in burying it. Keep it though, as it may come in useful in the future, and some of it will be good enough to steal. We learn from every writing experience, especially the ones that don’t turn out as we had hoped. We need the courage to move on and be better, but also to never give up.

Getting to know you: Alison Baillie

The lovely Alison Baillie joins us on the blog today to talk about writing. I met Alison at the fantastic Newcastle Noir earlier this year and hearing her talk about her debut novel Sewing the Shadows Togetherwas really interesting. I’m really looking forward to reading it!

I hope you find Alison’s advice as useful as I have.

Vic x

Alison Taylor-Baillie

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, Alison. How and when did you start writing?
I’ve always liked writing: I wrote little books when I was a child and was told not to write such long stories when I was at school! I’d always thought I’d like to write a novel but had the idea for ‘Sewing the Shadows Together‘ in my head for more than thirty years before I got round to actually writing it. Although I was certainly not thinking about it all the time, the plot seemed to be developing in my subconscious over the years, but children, divorce, moving country and working full-time all stood in the way of my writing. It was only when my sons had moved out and I stopped working full-time that I was able to actually begin writing.

Tell me about your debut novel,Sewing the Shadows Together.
It deals with the murder of a teenage girl in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, more than thirty years ago, and the effect it has on her brother, Tom, and her best friend, Sarah. When the local misfit who was convicted of the murder is proved to be innocent, the lives of Tom and Sarah are thrown into turmoil. In the search for the real killer they uncover dark secrets about their families and friends before the truth finally comes to light.

Sewing the Shadows Together

What inspired ‘Sewing the Shadows Together‘?
In the seventies and eighties I was an English teacher in an Edinburgh secondary school, at a time when there were several high-profile murders in Scotland. Even when the perpetrators were captured, I couldn’t help thinking about those who were left behind, wondering how the families of the victims would ever be able to get over such a tragic loss. This gave me the seeds of the idea for my novel. I also became very interested in miscarriages of justice and the role of modern DNA evidence in overturning unreliable convictions, which also influenced the plot.

Tell us about your main protagonists.
The story is told through the eyes of Tom and Sarah. They have both been scarred by Shona’s death in different ways: Tom and his family emigrated to South Africa after the tragedy, where he drifted, never finding a permanent job or forming any lasting relationships. When he returns to Scotland for the first time to scatter his mother’s ashes on her native Eriskay, he meets Sarah at a school reunion. She is married to his old school friend Rory, now a television chat-show host, with grown-up twins and a widowed mother. She spends her life trying to keep everybody happy, while closing her eyes to the cracks in her ‘perfect’ life.

What can readers expect from your book?
Although my book is a murder mystery, it is also a study of families, relationships and love, describing how ordinary people react when they are caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

Most useful piece of writing advice? Who was it from?
Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’ was the most useful and inspirational advice I’ve read. There was one particular section I could really identify with. He compared writing to uncovering a skeleton in the desert. The story is there, but you only realise what it truly is as you brush away the sand and discover the bones of the plot.

Have you got any advice for aspiring writers?
Well, the best advice is ‘just write‘ but I am very bad at following it myself and constantly go back and revise what I’ve written as the story and characters take on a life of their own.

What do you like and dislike about writing? 
I love the moment when the characters come to life, inhabit my dreams and become more real to me than people around me. I also love capturing the atmosphere of a place I’m writing about so I feel as if I’m there. I dislike the fact that I’m a very slow four-finger typist and my thoughts go so much faster than my fingers.

Are you writing anything at the moment?
I’m about two-thirds of the way through my second novel, another stand-alone psychological drama set in Switzerland and Scotland.

What’s been your happiest writing moment?
I was going to say finishing my first book. That was satisfying, but I immediately had to start write my second because I felt so empty not having anything to write.

Guest post: Jennifer C. Wilson on NaNoWriMo.

Today is a really special day for one of the members of my writing group, Elementary Writers. Jennifer C. Wilson’s début novel, ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, is released by Crooked Cat Publishing. 

To celebrate her publication, Jennifer has kindly agreed to appear on the blog today to talk about the process that started it all off: NaNoWriMo. 

Over to Jennifer to explain all about it! Congratulations, Jennifer, and thanks for appearing on the blog.

Vic x

Jennifer C Wilson in Leicester Cathedral

To Boldly NaNo?

Every November since 1999, writers around the globe have been signing up for the gloriously mad challenge that is National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo”. I first took the plunge in 2009, following the advice of a friend, and was delighted to hit the magical 50,000-word target with only a day to spare. It was fun. It was exhilarating. It was rubbish. My dialogue was terrible. Not a lot actually happened, despite having a plot full of twists and turns, and I told everything, hardly showing a thing.

Reading it back now, the adaptation of a plot first dreamt up so many years before, there is clearly some semblance of a story, some decent characters, even a theme, but the writing quality is dreadful. Yet, that isn’t the point of NaNoWriMo.

The point is to have a go, and, if you manage it, to come out at the end of the month with 50,000 words that you can review, revise and edit the life out of. It is a very rough draft, the first cut, in need of a lot of refinement – but if you think about it, you cannot edit what you haven’t written. One day, I’ll go back to my first attempt, but I know for a fact that my second ‘win’ in 2013 was significantly better, mainly thanks to the rubbish I wrote in 2009.

In 2013, I tried harder. Focused on the quality, even though you’re meant to ignore your ‘inner editor’ for the duration… I got lost in my ideas, became obsessed with my characters, and generally had a fabulous month with them all.

And I think that showed. Don’t get me wrong, it still needed a lot of work, but when I read it back, it was a pleasure, not a cringe-inducing wreck of a text. As a result, I felt it was worth spending more time on, giving it a thorough edit, and hopefully, a bit of a chance in life.

Part of it was written during the Elementary Writers workshops, and when the time came that I finally felt brave enough to share, having that feedback was invaluable. It especially helped me through that necessary evil, the synopsis. I am not good at synopses.

After almost two years, it was ready to be released into the wild, and I’m thrilled that Crooked Cat Publishing took it on.

Kindred Spirits

Knowing how much it helped my writing, I’m already working on my plot for NaNoWriMo 2015, and cannot wait to get started.

 

About ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London’: 

A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave? But foremost – will the young Plantagenet Princes join them?

About Jennifer Wilson:

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of Creative Writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online.

Links:

http://nanowrimo.org/

https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/586365

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/kindred-spirits-tower-london/id1050920356?mt=11

Guest Post: Stephanie Butland

Last week, I went to a Read Regional event featuring Stephanie Butland and Debbie Taylor; it was brilliant to hear these lovely ladies talk about their writing processes.
Today, the lovely Stephanie answers a question she is asked regularly – ‘Which is more important: character or plot?’ Stephanie’s novel, ‘Letters to My Husband‘, is available now. You can read my review of ‘Letters to My Husband’ here. ‘Letters to my Husband’ was originally published as ‘Surrounded by Water’.
Many thanks to Stephanie for being involved in the blog. Please feel free to leave a comment. 
Vic x
Photo by Topher McGrillis

Photo by Topher McGrillis

Which is most important: character or plot?
This question comes up a lot when I do author events. Here’s the short answer:
CHARACTER.
As with most short answers, though, it’s not quite that simple.
For me, any book where a character doesn’t behave consistently goes straight on the ‘charity shop’ pile, whether I’m thirty pages in or fifteen pages from the end. I don’t care whether it’s literary, thriller or YA – if the author wants me to believe that a heroine who has never shown any interest in languages suddenly applies for, and gets, a job as a translator (‘Ginny dug her Chinese language books out of the loft, and it all came flooding back’) in order to move her to the other side of the world, I’m done with that book, and very probably, that author too. That kind of writing is just plain lazy.
But – a beautifully drawn, authentic character who does nothing isn’t going to keep me reading either. Put bluntly: stuff has to happen. Something must go wrong. And that needs to help the character to change. (No, I am not going to use the word ‘journey’. This is not ‘Strictly’…)
For me, the most compelling writing – the sort that leads to the most obsessive, no-I-don’t-have-time-to-get-dressed-today reading – is writing where character and plot form a spiral, one feeding into another. Witness George Eliot’s Dorothea Brooke in ‘Middlemarch‘. She is smart and philanthropic and stubborn (character). Therefore Casaubon’s proposal is attractive to her (plot). When she discovers the futility of his project and he refuses to let her help the way she thought she would, she becomes dissatisfied (character-driven) which leads to her becoming attracted to Will Ladislaw (plot). And so on. Eliot and Austen did this brilliantly; one of my favourite authors, John Updike, was a master. But witness, also, Sarah Waters’ Sue in ‘Fingersmith‘; Katniss Everdene whose every effort in ‘The Hunger Games‘ is motivated by loyalty and fury at the world; Harold Fry’s Pilgrimage is not at all unlikely, really, because we understand precisely what in his character drives him to do what he does.
So, the short answer to the character/plot question is ‘character’. The longer, less snappy answer is ‘character, driven by plot, which will drive the character to take in-character responses, which will ramp up the plot a bit more’. And when you’ve got more than one character following those patterns… that’s when you’ve got magic.
Letters to my Husband

Letters to my Husband

Review: ‘The Casual Vacancy’ by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy

OK, I’m sure you’ve read countless reviews of ‘The Casual Vacancy’ but here’s another one.

Barry Fairbrother, a prominent member of the Pagford community, dies in his early 40s and leaves the town in shock. Some members of the local council see Fairbrother’s death as an opportunity to fill the council with like-minded people who will assist in separating The Fields. the problematic council estate, from Pagford. 

There are so many complex relationships in this book between parents and children (no matter how old the offspring are), siblings, spouses and between neighbours. When discussing this book at a book group, I encountered some readers who felt that the amount of conflict in this book was completely unrealistic. Some people that I talked to felt that there simply couldn’t be this amount of pain and misery in so many people’s’ lives in such a small area. I disagreed. When I read ‘The Casual Vacancy’, I was blown away that a woman who wrote about wizards and warlocks could produce such an accurate portrayal of modern-day life.

I truly believe that many people lead these lives of quiet desperation. They may look as though they are gliding through life but beneath the surface lurks fear and deep, dark secrets.

OK, so perhaps she included every kind of sadness and frustration known to man but would anyone read a novel where everyone was happy all the time? Affairs, spineless men, drug addicts, child abuse, bullying, death and the pervasiveness of the internet in people’s’ lives are all in here – as well as out there.

The characters have obviously been well-considered and not one of them is anything less than believable. There are characters that are nothing but despicable but – let’s face it – those people exist. Rowling’s overriding message appears to be that small actions can have massive implications.

Having never read a J.K. Rowling book before, I wasn’t too interested in the hype regarding ‘The Casual Vacancy’ until I saw J.K. talking about it on BBC’s ‘Culture Show’. The plot really interested me and I was surprised that the writer famous for ‘Harry Potter’ had taken such a change in direction. But, despite reviews to the contrary, this change in direction was an absolutely inspired idea. You must read it. 

Vic x

Order your copy of ‘The Casual Vacancy’ here: http://amzn.to/XdGbkj

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