OIR: Author sacks character!

Article published on April 10, 2015.

What a treat to hear Lesley Glaister speak at the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock on a February Saturday at one of their excellent Author Days.

As one of our most successful writers it was a privilege to meet her. Her books are gripping stories, tense and often involving murder and mystery with a psychological twist, peppered with a touch of dark humour and never predictable. As one of the audience said `By the time I get to the end I realise I did know that character as well as I thought’. In other words – great reads.

In 1990 her debut, Honour Thy Father, won both the Somerset Maugham and the Betty Trask awards. Since then she has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Guardian Fiction Award. As a dramatist her first play Bird Calls was performed at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 2003. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and currently the Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh while also working as a lecturer in Creative Writing at University of St. Andrews.

From the conversation among the audience there were many keen readers and fans of her books but what she had to say was of interest to writers also. She told us of two successive characters who had `taken over` her latest book and were taking it down a path she did not want to go, so they had to be `sacked`. When asked if that was the end of them she told us that one had already formed the core of a new short story.

It is always interesting hearing a writer read their own work and Lesley`s reading of her latest, Little Egypt was enticing, especially when she told us the background of this, the book that took her longest to write.

The Somerset Maugham award involves travel and back then Lesley was delighted to fulfil a long held desire to visit Egypt. While there she visited a lesser known tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Not feeling too good during the day she was a tad feverish that night, visited by a strange dream with an image that stayed in her mind. A couple of years ago while travelling by train she glimpsed a ruined house and another image flashed into her mind. Immediately the two connected – the seed that twenty two years on from her Egyptian visit began this, her latest book, Little Egypt, a tale of twins, children of obsessive Egyptologist parents and the secret the twins have guarded all their lives.

Over the course of thirteen novels Lesley`s reputation has grown with many of her short stories included in anthologies and/or broadcast on Radio 4.

So if you have not yet discovered Lesley Glaister try one of her books. You might well be hooked.

Sheila A. Grant, Kilmarnock

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