Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Caroline Smailes

I think I've said before that the test of a writer is not whether they've got one book in them, but whether they've got at least five. And this week CAROLINE SMAILES launches that fifth book, THE DROWNING OF ARTHUR BRAXTON. A very modern, very Northern fairy tale this book has already been delighting - and exciting - those who have managed to get their hands on advance copies.

Tanya Byrne, author of The Heart-Shaped Bruise called it 'strange, beautiful and wholly unexpected.' Matt Haig, author The Radleys, called it 'magical.' and the magazine Bella called it 'beautifully told and sometimes disturbing.' And the always straight-talking Bookcunt said it 'fixed something inside that was broken before.'

The thing about Caroline is she always pushing herself on, always trying to find new ways to tell stories - and new ways to reach audiences. She experiments, she doesn't settle. She's a restless, questing spirit - always in search of the story that shocks her readers out of complacency. And she is - book after book - getting herself a reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

As is my way at the minute, I pinged her some questions and she got back to me within fifteen minutes. dark, magical, unsettling, wholly unexpected - with quick brain and fast hands.

Can I have your biography in EXACTLY 50 words (not 51, not 49)?

Caroline watched an interview on Richard & Judy where they referred to someone as a ‘nearly woman’. She identified with that label and faced a ‘now or never’ moment. She enrolled on an MA in Creative Writing. Now, eight years later, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is Caroline’s fifth novel.

Why should people read The Drowning of Arthur Braxton?

To remember the redemptive power of first love, to see how that love can transform even the bleakest of childhoods into something truly extraordinary.

What is your most pressing concern right this minute?

Ants. I have ants in my office, they are mocking me, we are playing hide and seek.

How is being a woman who writes different from being a man who writes?

I don’t think there is a difference. The process, the angst, the concerns about the industry are experienced by many authors, regardless of gender. Perhaps, I’d suggest, the dominance of females in positions of power in the publishing industry balances out any latent chauvinism?

Who - in life or writing - do you most admire?

Roald Dahl. He wrote what children wanted to read, even when many adults felt the subjects were taboo or difficult. Roald Dahl was never frightened to kill off parents or to address a child’s sense of loneliness and abandonment head-on. He set new boundaries for children’s literature, he mixed together sorrow and wit, he cut through to the essence of what a child finds funny. His stories are timeless.

Why do we need the Women's Prize for Literature?

To celebrate a woman’s view, her craft, her perspective and her creation – this prize offers both men and women the opportunity to read what is perceived to be important literature by women. What’s not to love? I don’t feel this is a feminist stance, it isn’t about minorities. I’d be equally as interested in seeing a Men’s Prize for Literature.

Would you eat a mucky fat sandwich?

Oh yes, can’t beat a bit of dripping on a stottie cake. You can take the girl out of Newcastle…

What will the next book be about? (does it have a title yet?)

It might be called ‘Lime Street’, it’s a story set in a lost property office in Liverpool Lime Street train station, it’s an exploration of what it is to be lost or found or both.

If you could be anywhere right now, it would be....?

Paris, sipping champagne from a plastic wine glass, underneath the cherry blossom tree outside Shakespeare & Co.

Tell me something I don't know...

Some ants can swim.

The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is published by The Friday Project (an imprint of HarperCollins) on Thursday - you know what to do...

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