Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Reading next year’s bestsellers

Faber Proof Party
Festival Hub

WHAT a privilege it was to attend this event. The first reading for three debut writers — Claire Adam, Bev Thomas and Claire McGlasson.

And you couldn’t tell; they were self-assured, confident and enthusiastic as they told us about their upcoming books.

Even better, Faber provided every attendee with a proof copy of each book and a postcard asking for our thoughts. I cannot wait to get stuck in!

So why the impatience to start reading these three writers before they are even, officially, published?

Bev’s thriller, A Good Enough Mother, draws on her experiences as a psychologist; while Claire Adam’s book, Golden Child, is set in her native Trinidad; and Claire McGlasson, a TV journalist, uses her love of research to bring us an historical fiction novel based on real events, called, The Rapture.

Where do we begin with such a varied selection? As much as the books, and authors, are all very different, there are similarities and this comes from “writing what you know”. The three writers agreed that they drew on experience and interests to make their books come to life.

In doing so, they have tried to create authentic worlds for their readers, whether that be the “real” Trinidad, away from tourist expectations, or what it is really like to be a psychologist without popular culture’s stereotypes, or the shocking realities of a religious cult in Twenties Bedford.

Like crowded rooms at a party, these books give us lots to celebrate.

There was an excited buzz from the audience as they listened intently to the extremely professional readings, and simultaneously flicked through the pages of the proof copies in their hands. There were a lot of questions and time seemed to run away.

People wanted to know how the moment you find out you are going to be published feels, while others asked about the route to publication. There was discussion about the theme of maternal grief in both Bev Thomas’s and Claire Adam’s books, and then much interest about the research that Claire McGlasson did.

All three writers agreed that they struggled with their titles but they fiercely defended their endings against the editors’ pens! How they end, though, is still to be revealed.

I left the festival hub feeling refreshed, carrying my brown paper bag stamped with “ff” by my side and eager to get started on next year’s new bestsellers.

Laura Healy

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