Sunday, 30 January 2011

Glasshopper: Growing up in Fiction

On Thursday Isabel Ashdown guested Hove Library to talk about her debut novel Glasshopper at an event called "Growing Up in Fiction". I first heard Isabel speak at the Chichester Writing Festival and was intrigued by how her novel came to be a novel. It all started with a short story competition for the Mail on Sunday. Isabel submitted her story, and forgot all about it. A year later she gets a phone call and is told that she's the winner of the competition! It's the kind of phone call all writers are waiting for ...

Isabel, who discussed her writing process with literary agent Adrian Weston, told the audience that Glasshopper in fact contains several chapters that were orginally written as short stories. Perhaps that's why the novel is so good, because when you write short stories you have to be more precise in your writing. The novel follows Jake who grows up in Portsmouth in the 80s, and parallell to his story the novel follow his mum Mary growing up in Hove in the 60s. Interestingly enough Jake first started off as a girl and Mary started off as a dad instead of a mum ...

What I love best about Glasshopper are the family secrets bubbling under the suface, and the ending is brilliant. To me it's the perfect twist, both believable and shocking. Isabel revealed that she didn't have much of a plan when she started off, the ending came as a surprise to herself about half-way into the writing.

Tom Connolly, author of The Spider Truces, was also supposed to be at the event, but sadly had to cancel at the last minute. Instead Adrian Weston read an extract from The Spider Truces, another novel that deals with growing up in the 80s. Both Tom Connolly and Isabel Ashdown are published by Myriad Editions, and Isabel has a second novel secured with them, to be published this summer. It's called Hurry up and Wait. I can't wait!

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