Friday, 20 January 2017

Triskele Books’ New Release

 Come along on the latest Triskele Books’ journey to …

Another Time: 1970s.

Another Place: Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

The Silent Kookaburra is Triskele Books’ author, Liza Perrat’s new novel, a psychological suspense story that marks a departure from her previous French historical fiction trilogy: The Bone Angel series.

But what's it about?

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web.

Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory.

Wollongong beach

A few questions from Liza's colleagues about The Silent Kookaburra

Triskele Books: Why did you decide to change from writing historical fiction to psychological suspense crime?
LP: I had written three historical fiction novels (The Bone Angel trilogy) based i
n the same French village, and about the same family. I feared another one might just be “too much of the same thing”. I also felt I needed a complete change, to refresh my writing. I will most likely return to writing historical fiction though, one day, as I love that genre.

Triskele Books: Did your Australian background help in writing this story?

LP: It certainly did. I grew up in Wollongong in the 1970s. Having first-hand knowledge of the place, the flora and fauna, and the mentality of those times, really helped. Though when I called on friends to help with memories from that time, I realized each of us remembered different things, which was nice and nostalgic.

What readers are saying about The Silent Kookaburra ...

Compelling psychological drama that delves into the dark heart of family secrets. Chris Curran, author of Amazon bestseller, Mindsight.

A real page-turner with fabulously engaging characters and a gripping plot, the outcome of which I did not guess before the final revelation. Claire Whatley, reader.

An amazing domestic thriller with a gripping storyline, vivid dialogue, a palpable sense of place and time, and a compelling cast of characters that I can't get out of my head. Carol Cooper, Contemporary Women’s Fiction author.

I have to say this was one of the most compelling reads I have read. Carol Ravensdale, reader.

Liza Perrat brings her sureness of touch, vivid characterisation and ability to convey a strong sense of time and place to this story set in 1970s Australia. Vanessa Couchman, author of The House at Zaronza.

Aussie parrot

It’s a delight to watch an author grow into her talent. I admire Perrat’s historical fiction, but here she really comes into her own. In moving closer to the present and to her own Australian background, she produces a riveting tale of human frailty and deceit that kept me enthralled even as I dreaded what might happen next. C.P. Lesley, author of the Legends of the Five Directions series.

… nothing better than a good twist or two in a plot, but this was a first for me – one final hammer dropping on the very last page that made my jaw drop! Cindy Taylor, Book Blogger.

The mystery keeps you turning the pages; the description transports you to another place, another time; and the characters by turns amuse, infuriate, entertain and conjure a sense of poignancy and regret. Tricia Gilbey, writer and reader.

… as well-written psychological thrillers often do, it makes you question everything you think you know, culminating in a true twist of an ending that both shocks and makes you ask "Why didn't I figure this out sooner?" Courtney J. Hall, historical fiction, romance and contemporary author.

EXTRACT from The Silent Kookaburra…

Chapter 1


Knuckles blanch, distend as my hand curves around the yellowed newspaper pages and my gaze hooks onto the headlines.

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY. January 26th, 1973. 165-year anniversary of convict ships arriving in Sydney.

Happy? What a cruel joke for that summer. The bleakest, most grievous, of my life.

I can’t believe my grandmother kept such a reminder of the tragedy which flayed the core of our lives; of that harrowing time my cursed memory refuses to entirely banish.

Shaky hands disturb dust motes, billowing as I place the heat-brittled newspaper back into Nanna Purvis’s box.

I try not to look at the headline but my gaze keeps flickering back, bold letters more callous as I remember all I’d yearned for back then, at eleven years old, was the simplest of things: a happy family. How elusive that happiness had proved.

I won’t think about it anymore. I mustn’t, can’t! But as much as I wrench away my mind, it strains back to my childhood.

Of course fragments of those years have always been clear, though much of my past is an uncharted desert –– vast, arid, untamed.

Psychology studies taught me this is how the memory magician works: vivid recall of unimportant details while the consequential parts –– those protective breaches of conscious recollection –– are mined with filmy chasms.

I swipe the sweat from my brow, push the window further open.

Outside, the sun rising over the Pacific Ocean is still a pale glow but already it has baked the ground a crusty brown. Shelley’s gum tree is alive with cackling kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets shrieking and swinging like crazy acrobats, eucalyptus leaves twisted edge-on to avoid the withering rays.

But back in my childhood bedroom, behind Gumtree Cottage’s convict-built walls, the air is even hotter, and foetid with weeks of closure following my parents’ deaths.

Disheartened by the stack of cardboard boxes still to sift through, uneasy about what other memories their contents might unearth, I rest back on a jumble of moth-frayed cushions.

I close my eyes to try and escape the torment, but there is no reprieve. And, along with my grandmother’s newspaper clipping, I swear I hear, in the rise and dump of its swell, the sea pulling me back to that blistering summer of over forty years ago.

Where to buy The Silent Kookaburra ...

The Silent Kookaburra

Friday, 13 January 2017

Triskele Author Feature - Catriona Troth

Once in a while, we like to remind ourselves of why we're an author collective. Five individuals in three countries bound by a love of writing. People often ask how it works, but rarely why.

Here's the second in our Author Feature series, on why we appreciate Catriona Troth.

Author, editor and litfest organiser, Catriona excels as a connector of writers. She is the powerhouse behind our Indie Author Fairs and last year's Triskele LitFest. With her novella Gift of the Raven and her epic opus, Ghost Town, Catriona proves she can not only transport you to another time and place, but she makes you think.

What Amanda Hodgkinson says about Catriona

Catriona is the perfect kind of writer; the kind whose head is filled with vast libraries of stories, and for whom a deep love of words and form and a desire to communicate is a lifelong quest. The kind of writer who always has a great respect for her readers. That's just one of the reasons why her novels are so beautiful and absorbing. Catriona is the perfect kind of writer for other writers too, helping and supporting them, offering them her time, enthusiasm and her talents, all in the hope of bringing great books to new readers.

What makes Kat such a valued member of Triskele Books?

Liza Perrat: Catriona’s skill as a structural editor has been highly beneficial to the storylines of my own novels. Her drive for perfection, and her motivation to edit, edit and edit again, have brought her own books up to the highest narrative standard. And her skills as events’ organizer have been invaluable for all of our Triskele literary festivals. 

Jane Dixon Smith: Catriona's sympathies and understanding of the time and society in which her novel Ghost Town and novella Gift of the Raven are set is what gives them a special and honest feel, making them so compelling.

JJ Marsh: Triskele and the concept of an author collective arose from a conversation Kat and I had in 2009. Gilly, Liza and I made it a reality in 2011, and when Kat was ready to publish, it was only natural for her to join the team. She's an exceptional editor, a terrific networker whose aim is to help other writers, and most importantly, a brilliant writer. She tackles tough subjects in her work, remaining clear-eyed and unsentimental while delivering enormous emotional impact. Her books are impossible to forget.

Gillian Hamer: There's something about Kat in real life that comes across both in her writing as well as in her editorial work - and for me that is understanding. She has an eye for detail and a human empathy that are great talents to posses in both fields. I rely on her input in each of books, knowing she will see something others don't. And that's what makes her own writing so special too. She writes about things others do not see, it's a special talent in a writer and makes her style her own.

What They Say About Ghost Town

“There is a subtle blend of realism and pragmatism which allows the story to evolve in such a way that despite its subject matter, it never becomes distasteful or inflammatory. There is clever use of colourful street vocabulary which is dotted throughout the text; from South Asian Punjabi, through to Rasta slang, words which imply meaning without always needing to refer to the exemplary glossary. In Ghost Town, the whole vista of the 1980s is captured like a snapshot; a moment of time which embodies a culture one hopes is relegated to history books but which perhaps sadly lingers, alive in memory.” - Jaffa Reads Too

“The city comes alive almost as a character itself. Also the time - early 80s - is evoked so well it brought back vivid memories of songs, of movements, of clothes, of the political spectrum.
Ms Troth has a terrific ear for voices and accents; her characters come fully formed off the page by the sheer virtuosity of her ventriloquism.” - Barbara Scott-Emmett

“It's hard to liken GHOST TOWN to anything else out there, but there were certainly echoes of Alex Wheatle's EAST OF ACRE LANE. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to step out of their comfort zone and explore a little-talked-about pocket of British history.” - Polly Courtney

"Ghost Town is a fascinating exploration of the Coventry riots of 1981 and the events leading to them. Catriona Troth handles her material with a subtle touch and doesn’t flinch from showing the tensions and conflicts within communities and families as well as those outside. Ghost Town works as both a vivid record of a recent historical event and as a cracking good read." - Chris Curran

There’s a pleasurably subtle, gently restless, level-toned yet unsparing quality to many aspects of "Ghost Town", including these ones: the elusive nature of Maia, a reliable narratorial lens and yet a full individual with her own dramas too, whose open innocence manages to remain unsullied by seeing such ugliness and suffering around her; the novel’s smooth inclusion of quite a breadth of facts, terminology and historical detail (including several vivid trips out of Coventry, down to riot-torn Brixton); its successful ambitiousness in being at once a political story, a love story and a coming-of-age story." - Rohan Quine

"This book is challenging on several levels. Sometimes an uncomfortable read, it demonstrates the vital role of fiction in tackling serious issues, such as the threat that is perceived when the demographics of a city change rapidly, particularly at a time of high unemployment." - JE Davis

"Ms Troth has most admirably captured the atmosphere of urban decay, race riots, unemployment and the ever simmering violence of an era I well remember. The characters are well drawn and credible and the storyline most compelling." - Amazon reviewer

What They Say About Gift of the Raven

"The emotions entwined in this story are what really brings it to life. The author makes it very easy to see through the eyes of young Terry, and feel the pain and struggling he must endure. Mix this with the well-described Canadian cultures and history, and the novella becomes incredibly thought-provoking."

"I was enchanted by this novella about a boy searching for his roots and identity. The descriptions of landscapes are beautiful and the writing is lyrical and powerful. Reading this, I was reminded of Louise Erdrich's writing style and ability to create character and history within landscapes. An absolute pleasure to read. Moving and tender."

"A beautifully-written novella that explores the troubled childhood of Terry, and his journey to find his roots with the Haida Gwaii Indians of Canada. As well as Terry's heart-warming story, and the author's lyrical prose that brought these parts of Canada to life, I really enjoyed learning about a culture of which I previously knew nothing."

"This is a truly wonderful story and one which you won't forget in a hurry. It is skilfully written, the characters are full of depth and the scene beautifully set."

Here's Catriona talking about Triskele Books and how it works.

In addition to writing fiction, festival organisation, journalism and reviewing, Catriona is a well-respected editor.

Find out more or make contact here:

Twitter: @L1bCat

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Getting to know our Big 5 Winner ... Sophie Wellstood!

Winner of the Big 5 Comp - Sophie Wellstood
By Gillian Hamer.

Among the many hundreds of entries, long-list, short-list processes, there was in the end one winner, chosen by our head judge, crime writer Sheila Bugler. And that winner was Sophie Wellstood and the opening pages of her novel The Sky is a Blue Bowl.

Sophie will now spend 2017 working alongside the Triskele team to polish her novel to perfection and hopefully see it make its way out into the big wide world. We thought it would be nice to get to know Sophie a little, and introduce her to our followers right at the beginning of her journey.

So ... congratulations, Sophie, on winning our Big 5 competition! How did you feel when you heard the result?
Surprised, thrilled, and a little scared.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself away from writing?
I work in central London, teaching English to adults - a job I love. It's endlessly interesting and rewarding, and can be hugely creative. I also play piano and guitar with my Irish ceilidh-loving friends, go for very long walks in wild places, swim in ponds and spend a lot of time looking through a camera lens.

And a little about your writing?
Recurring themes seem to be wilderness, desire, alienation, abandonment, recovery, grief...all of which sound very grim on paper, but actually there's just as much humour I hope in my writing. Life really can be absurd, even in the midst of the most dreadful times. My unconventional upbringing gave me some of the darkest experiences possible, but also some of the very best, and I'm old enough now to be able to treat it a gift, rather than as a millstone.

I've long felt that my natural home is the short story and poetry, that novels were just too long and complicated and difficult (not that short stories or poetry are in any way 'easy'!). I still feel that to some extent. But after studying for two years at Birkbeck University with Jonathan Kemp, and then later with inspirational author and editor Debi Alper, I found that I could - and wanted to - push the boundaries of my comfort zones and go for it. Writing novels is still a ridiculously long and complicated and difficult process, but incredibly exciting.

The opening 10 pages of your novel connected with all of the shortlisting judges, and was the overall favourite of crime writer, Sheila Bugler, our head judge – what was your inspiration for the novel?
There was no one lightbulb moment as such, but after taking voluntary redundancy in 2010 from a role in Further Education, I thought I'd like to write a dark comedy based around the mysterious murder of an unpopular senior manager - kind of 'in the photocopy cupboard with a bottle of tippex' kind of thing. But that idea quickly proved to have no legs at all, and would likely be libellous anyway. So I began sketching out a very camp nod to the 60s and 70s girls own-style adventure stories I've always loved, and the seeds of The Sky... were sown. In fact, the matriarch of the novel, Edith, was originally named Enid as a direct nod and wink to Enid Blyton, and the seriousness (or lack of it) I then ascribed to the story.

However, as the imaginary world began to take shape - and all writers know this mad feeling - the characters began to shout and boss me around and would not be trivialised. The darkest and saddest of themes began to emerge, and I realised that yes, there is a lot of lightness and love and silliness to enjoy in the novel, but the monsters in the shadows have to be there.

What I was always very sure about, though, was that a same-sex love affair would be at the heart of the novel, and that I wanted to create people who would be as lovely and damaged and as conflicted as I could make them - whilst still being real and relateable enough to engage a reader. We will see! I may or may not have succeeded, but that's part of the whole crazy challenge of attempting to create an authentic, fictional world.

Why do you write?
Initially out of a pure love for reading - which I think if you experience as a child you're set for life - and just wanting to copy my favourite authors and poets. Then, through many solipsistic years, I produced reams of obsessive, angry, fractured woe-is-me stuff - but enough accidentally-nailed-it moments to realise that eventually words can say exactly the right thing in the exactly the right way. Now I hope I'm much more structured, more disciplined, more relaxed, and slightly less precious about it. Writing is what I love, and I hope I can produce reasonably professional and meaningful work, but the world won't stop spinning if I can't. The rejections hurt, though - I'm not that thick-skinned yet.

Which authors would you list as your inspiration?
How much space do you have?! Spike Milligan, Patti Smith, Maya Angelou, Tobias Wolff, Raymond Carver, Nancy Garden, Carol Noble, Debi Alper, Jonathan Kemp, Annie Proulx, David Sedaris, Denis Johnson, Alison Bechdel, Armistead Maupin, Alice Munro, Alice Walker, Sarah Dreher, Ellen Galford, Fiona Cooper, Keri Hulme, Ian McEwan, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, Sylvia Plath, Jackie Kay, Julia Darling, Ali Smith, John Cheever, Carol Ann Duffy, Joanna Cannon, Carol Anshaw...and of course, Enid Blyton. 

What did you know about Triskele Books before the competition?
Actually very little, other than what I learned online via Words With Jam.

Why did you enter our Big 5 competition?
I enter many writing competitions - the discipline and focus is important for me, and provides a sense of structure and involvement with other writers and the industry. You know you're being read, even if more often than not the outcome is crushing disappointment! With the Big 5 competition, however, the prize was - and is - an exceptionally generous and exciting opportunity which I knew immediately I wanted very, very much. I've not come across any other competitions offering such a well thought-out and genuinely life-changing prize, and could not be happier to have won.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
Hopefully the beginnings of a readership base, but prior to that, making the most of this unique opportunity to work closely with and learn from a team of people who are experts in their fields; to get professional advice and guidance and insight into all stages of the publishing process, especially the promotional and media-related side, which I find daunting and excruciating in equal measure.

In an ideal world, where would you like to see your writing career taking you?
I'm traditionalist enough to really want agent representation; to find the right person who gets what I'm on about and with whom I can set out my plans for at least the next two novels (the current, second one is plotted, half-written and will be finished mid 2017; the third is poking up little tendrils of ideas). I'd love to put out a collection of short stories and poetry, too - oh and all my children's stuff as well, and a couple of radio plays! But ultimately, I'd just like to find the right agent and have much more time to write.

Friday, 16 December 2016

BOOK CLUB: A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards

This month on Book Club, we discuss A Cupboard Full of Coats, by Yvvette Edwards

About the author

Yvvette Edwards is a London author of Caribbean heritage. She is the author of two novels - A Cupboard Full of Coats and The Mother. Her books are peopled by characters who, as she said in an interview for Foyles, “speak in ways I recognize, like people whose roots were forged in the Caribbean who have made their permanent homes here in the UK."

About the Book

A Cupboard Full of Coats is a story of domestic abuse and the way its consequences reverberate down through the years. We see events unfold, not through the eyes of the abused woman, but through the eyes of her daughter, Jinx – sixteen at the time of her mother’s murder and now thirty – and Lemon (short for Philemon), a family friend.

The adult Jinx is emotionally shut down, her relationship with her son and ex-husband in tatters, when Lemon arrives on her doorstep, determined to unearth the past she has tried so hard to bury. Bit by bit, we piece together the events that led up to her mother’s death. As the heartbreaking significance of that cupboard full of coats is revealed, we start to glimpse Jinx and Lemon’s own roles in the tragedy.


A Cupboard Full of Coats is a tender telling of an all-too-common tragedy. How did you find this way of approaching what could be a very difficult subject?

(GEH) I think the author has been very clever in the style she used and the balance is spot on. Gripping, real, thought-provoking and emotional without a hint of melodrama. Getting to know and understand Jinx as an adult gave us an insight into her teenage years from a totally different perspective. The most emotive part for me was the cupboard full of coats - but I don't want to add any spoilers here. Just read it!

(JJ) For me, Edwards's skill is in how much she reveals and how. I saw it as less of an all-too-common tragedy, but all-too-common outcome of tragic events. A damaged child grows into a damaged adult and only has one version of the story. This book is unusual in how it thaws and unpacks those frozen perspectives.

The novel is set in Hackney in East London, but the older generation of characters are all immigrants from the tiny Caribbean island of Monserrat, and the language and rhythms of the island permeate the story. How did you feel that worked? Did it draw you in?

(GEH) Okay, so I listened to the Audiobook version and I thought the narrator was amazing with a capital A! I loved all the voices, particularly Lemon and the teenage friend, Sam. It totally enhanced the story for me, added depth to the characters and drew me into the lifestyle of Hackney at the time.

(JJ) I read the book, but I'm a massive fan of voice, especially when done this well. I know nothing about Monserrat, although felt I had learnt much by the end of the book. The language, rhythms, culture and cadence all had an effect on the pace, which felt relaxing and easing, Ideal for a book which unties old knots.

Edwards’ writing is profoundly sensual–whether she is describing Lemon dancing, plaiting cornrows into Jinx’s hair, or the coats themselves, still carrying the lingering scent of her mother, moulding to her naked shape as perfectly as second skin. Were there particular images that stood out for you?

(GEH) I was going to say the coats first and foremost, but also the description of the Caribbean style food and drink Lemon created and the lyrical way his movements added to the experience. One image is the description of pumpkin soup he cooked, the colour, richness and taste came across borderline erotic. Jinx was an unusual narrator because her inner battles gave differing accounts of the same thing - but with Lemon she couldn't hide her feelings. And on the same note, the sex scenes, I thought were perfectly balanced with enough eroticism and realism to bring the images alive for the reader. Excellent job!

(JJ) The most striking moments are when the sensual echoes the emotional and exposes the emptiness Jinx is only dimly aware she has. The description of her licking the gravy even when the plate was clean struck me as reflective of someone starved, but not of gravy. The echoes of childhood sensory experiences comfort an adult who is convinced she has no need of them. This was an incredibly powerful theme and made the book rich in its subtlety.

Food plays a central role – the scents and tastes of the food Lemon cooks, creating a bridge between Jinx and her past. Saltfish cakes and plantain, “red mullet, perfectly fried, crisp and salty on the outside, moist and steaming on the inside.” Sorrel and Guinness punch. Pumpkin soup, “saffron coloured and bursting with flavour, with small soft pieces of yam and sweet potato and green banana and tania seed and chewy torpedo dumplings.” Why do you think Edwards makes it so important?

(GEH) Yes, as I touched on in the previous answer, I loved the references to the food and it added a colourful and interesting layer to the characters and the story. I think for the author it may have been a nod to her culture, to the importance of food in their family life, how Caribbean family life revolved around food traditions and she wanted to bring this into modern-day Hackney and Jinx's story. And also, maybe to show some comfort amid the cruelty that surrounded Jinx and her mother on a day to day basis, that they had their love of food there no matter how bad life got for them.

(JJ) Food is something I always notice in books and use liberally in my own writing. For me, it is a key aspect of conjuring the environment. This is one aspect of what Edwards does but as Gilly says, there's a deeper sense of identity involved with these tastes and flavours. Preparing food for someone shows love and care and dedication. These meals are an embrace, another way to give someone a hug. A striking element of the cook and cooked-for is how Jinx opens up to the joy of eating these foods. For someone so apparently closed, she abandons herself to the simple act of eating, while the reader feels the layers of distance peel away.

How did the central image of the cupboard full of coats work for you?

(GEH) I thought the title of the novel was unusual, and even the first time Jinx went to that cupboard in her mother's bedroom, I thought it was just a matter of needing them for comfort. But as the layers of the story were gradually peeled away, and the truth revealed, I found it heart breaking. I had pictures of her mother's bruised face, forced smiles and the dread every time a new coat appeared.

(JJ) It fits. Not just because of why the coats and where they came from, but again, the sensuality of these arms, these soft fabrics, these symbols of comfort in more than one way. I also felt a resonance with the concept of cupboard or closet. Closed doors where something scary might lurk. A portal to another world, where imagination can escape. Or simply as a place to hide.

Without giving too much away, did you find the revelation of Jinx’s and Lemon’s role in the tragedy believable? Satisfying?

(GEH) Yes, both. Lemon's role I found totally believable, the balance between love and hate is a fragile one, particularly when weighted by jealousy. With Jinx I did wonder if such a simple act of childhood rebellion would really have left her so scarred and guilt-ridden. But in hindsight, without knowing about Lemon's involvement too, yes, I can see how it would have built up until she felt the whole weight on her own shoulders. I liked the conclusion, the visit to the family grave and reconciliation with her son. It was very cleverly portrayed.

(JJ) Their roles in the tragedy, whilst vital to the story, were less significant than what they believed and the stories they told themselves. The satisfaction comes from changing the patterns of thought, blame and self-regard. When a defining event turns out to be not what you thought, you have to change your own story. You re-define. As the book shows, it sometimes requires a blast from the past to comprehend your role.

Do you think the ending contains some promise of healing and redemption for the two central characters?

(GEH) Lemon - I don't know. From the tending of the grave, he clearly had lived with a lot of remorse. I am not sure he feels he deserves redemption and as we had no hint of where he went to, I'm not sure what his future ends. For Jinx, yes, I think the skeletons of her past have been firmly buried now and she can see a future where she can love and trust and live ... finally.

(JJ) Yes. Both let go of something - guilt, remorse, unfinished business and dealt with the shadow hanging over them. Edwards hints at a stony path ahead and so it should be. Recalibrating a life does not happen in one weekend, which is what Jinx must do. As for Lemon, his visit may have lifted Jinx, but his own trajectory, freed of baggage, is unclear.

The book reminded me of Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan in the way that it peeled back layers of guilt and remorse. What other novels would you compare it with and why?

(GEH) I've had to think about this one ... and the first book that came to mind, maybe because of a similarity in style was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Characters who are moulded by family secrets and lies that leave them burdened with guilt that is slowly revealed to the reader. And another book I enjoyed recently that had similar issues of grief and guilt that were slowly revealed was I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. A twist in the middle turns that book on its head, but we still see the aftermath of an event that completely changed a person's life before we learn about the event and the consequences. A real skill for an author to achieve.

(JJ) Gilly's spot on there with Khaled Hosseini. He explores loyalty and self-preservation perfectly in The Kite Runner. Three books came to my mind, the first being Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Completely different in tone, location and characters, but the spectre of grief as physical struck home. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron, moves from the collective guilt to the personal in one moment which destroys every participant. And A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, by Eimear McBride. Her blend of remorse and regret is as physical, cultural, painful and emotionally agonising.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Revisiting the Triskele Lit Fest 5/5: Preserving the Unicorn

The last session of September's Triskele Lit Fest was the intriguingly-titled "Preserving the Unicorn," a conversation with literary authors and their editors, chaired by Catriona Troth.

Participants Sunny Singh, Alex Pheby and his editor Sam Jordison, and Rohan Quine and his editor Dan Holloway talked about their influences and inspirations, and the process of editing a literary novel.

A discussion that roams from Dante's Inferno to Freudian psychoanalysis, Martin Scorsese to Gustav Klimpt, A Clockwork Orange to Dick van Dyke (in the space of one sentence!), and Derrida to Salman Rushdie.

Watch the full panel here:

Part way through, Alex Pheby throws out a challenge to the audience. "No one ever comes back to me on this," he says. "I dunno," says the chair, "I know some of this lot." On the day, we ran out of time to follow through on this, but audience member, Orna Ross (who had been on the Hist Fic panel earlier in the day) did come back with the series of questions for Alex. We are hoping to persuade him to respond to those questions in Words with Jam in the New Year.

You can watch all the videos from TLF16 on our YouTube Channel.

Rohan Quine is a writer of literary fiction with a touch of magical realism and a dusting of horror, celebrating the beauty, darkness and mirth of this predicament called life, where we seem to have been dropped without sufficient consultation ahead of time.

Publications: The Imagination Thief (novel); The Platinum Raven, The Host in the Attic, Apricot Eyes, and Hallucination in Hong Kong (four novellas); and the upcoming Beasts of Electra Drive, now barrelling down the pipeline.

Rohan's editor, Dan Holloway is a poet, novelist, journalist, editor and performer. Dan loves the writing and research process but comes into his own when given a microphone. He is the rabble rouser in chief of The New Libertines, who have been touring the UK’s festivals and fringes since 2011. In 2010, he won the international spoken prose show Literary Death Match and competed at the 2016 UK National Poetry Slam Final at the Royal Albert Hall.

He also runs the editing and copywriting business Rogue Interrobang, working with academics and non-fiction writers.

Sunny Singh is an author and journalist. She also teaches creative writing at London Metropolitan University.

One unusual aspect to the development of her novel, Hotel Arcadia, was the role of Sunny’s Dutch translator in the editing process.

Sunny was born in India, and has lived in Pakistan, Spain, South Africa, Latin America and the US.

Alex Pheby was born in Essex, but moved to Worcester in his early childhood. He currently lives with his wife and two children in London, where he teaches at the University of Greenwich. Playthings was described as "simply a superb novel" in the Literary Review, "compelling" in the Guardian, glowingly reviewed throughout the UK press, and shortlisted for the 2016 Wellcome Prize.

Alex's Editor, Sam Jordison is a journalist, publisher and writer. He is the co-director of award-winning Galley Beggar Press. He writes for The Guardian and TLS. He is the author of several works of non-fiction, his latest is called Literary London and is co-written with Eloise Millar.

The panel was chaired by Catriona Troth, who is a member of the Triskele Books author collective and the author of two novels, Ghost Town and Gift of the Raven. She writes regularly for Words with Jam magazine, where she has particularly enjoyed interviewing authors like Sunny Singh, Leye Adenle,  Michelle Innis and Myles E Johnson.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Revisiting the Triskele Lit Fest 4/5: Historical Fiction Panel

The fourth of our five panels at the Triskele Lit Fest focused on Historical Fiction.

Our panelists' novels cover a huge spectrum, both geographically and chronologically - from 3rd Century Syria to early 20th Century Ireland, from the Partition of India to the Roman Empire re-imagined in the 1960s.

Here you can watch novelist Jane Davis talk to Orna Ross, Radhika Swarup, JD Smith and Alison Morton.

Next week: Preserving the Unicorn - literary authors and their editors.
And you can listen to our earlier panels (Sci Fi, Crime and Romance) on our YouTube channel.

Orna Ross writes novels, poems and the Go Creative! books and is Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors.

After the Rising and Before the Fall are the first two of a trilogy of novels set in Ireland during the early 20th Century.

Her Secret Rose is the first of her trilogy about the poet WB Yeats.

Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternative history thrillers with strong heroines. Three of the series, Successio, Aurelia and Insurrectio, have been selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. Aurelia was a finalist for the prestigious HNS Indie Award for 2016. The first four books have been awarded the BRAG Medallion.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison has misspent decades of holidays clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe. She holds a MA History, blogs about Romans and administers the HNS Facebook group.

Jane is the author of the HNS Indie Award 2016 finalist Tristan and Iseult and The Overlord series, comprising The Rise of Zenobia, The Fate of an Emperor and The Better of Two Men. The Rebel Queen is due out in early 2017

She is a member of the Triskele Books collective, editor of the writers' ezine Words with JAM, and the readers' review site Bookmuse.

She is also an award-winning book cover designer.

And she loves cake. Just in case you were wondering.

Radhika Swarup spent a nomadic childhood in India, Italy, Qatar, Pakistan, Romania and England, which gave her a keen sense for the dispossessed. She read Economics at Cambridge, following which she worked in investment banking before turning to writing. 

She has written opinion pieces for Indian broadsheets and the Huffington Post as well as short stories for publications including the Edinburgh Review.
Where the River Parts is her first novel.

The Historical Fiction panel was chaired by author, Jane Davis. Jane is the author of six novels, including the historical novel, I Stopped Time. Her writing has been compared with Kate Atkinson and Maggie O'Farrell.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Revisiting the Triskele Lit Fest 3/5: Crime and Thrillers

The third panel at the Triskele Lit Fest on 17th December was Crime and Thrillers.

Here you can watch Ben Cameron in conversation with Kate Hamer, Adam Croft and Chris Longmuir. Ever heard of Grip Lit? Know what Devil's Porridge is? Find out here!

The conspicuous empty chair on the right belongs to Nigerian author, Leye Adenle, who at the last minute was prevented from joining us. Catriona Troth caught up with him a little later, and you can read her interview with him here.

Next week: Historical Fiction. And you can also watch our Sci Fi and Fantasy  and Romance panels.

Adam Croft is a British author, principally of crime fiction, best known for the Kempston Hardwick mysteries and Knight & Culverhouse thrillers as well as his 2015 worldwide bestselling psychological thriller, Her Last Tomorrow, which became one of the biggest selling books of the year with over 150,000 copies sold in the first five months.

His books have sold more than half a million copies around the world, and in 2016 he was featured by The Guardian as one of the biggest selling authors of the year, and regularly takes part in discussions and panels on publishing and the future of books.

Chris Longmuir is an award winning novelist. She is best known for her Dundee Crime Series, featuring DS Bill Murphy. Night Watcher, the first book in the series, won the SAW (Scottish Association of Writers) Pitlochry Award, and the sequel, Dead Wood, won the Dundee International Book Prize, as well as the Pitlochry Award. 

Kate Hamer grew up in Pembrokeshire. She did a Creative Writing MA at Aberystwyth University and the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course.
She won the Rhys Davies short story award in 2011 and her winning story was read out on Radio 4. She has recently been awarded a Literature Wales bursary. She lives in Cardiff with her husband and two children.
Her debut novel, The Girl in the Red Coat, was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Her second novel, The Doll Funeral is out in 2017. You can read our review of it on BookMuseUK.

The Crime and Thrillers panel was chaired by Ben Cameron. Ben is the Founder and Managing Director of Cameron Publicity and Marketing. He has over 20 years experience in book publishing, promotion and sales with both traditional publishers and self-published authors. Ben is also a well-regarded speaker and writer on publishing and contributes to The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, Writing Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Self-publishing Magazine and others.