Friday, 16 March 2012

Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall

I heard this book, a debut novel, mentioned on Woman's Hour on 7th February.  The author, Clare Morrall was being interviewed about her fifth book which is due out now The Roundabout Man. I immediately reserved it online via my local library. 

Clare is a good example of a persistent aspiring author as she had four books rejected before Astonishing Splashes of Colour, her fifth book, was accepted for publication.  She was surprised when it was then shortlisted for the Booker Prize.  Clare said her four rejections spread out over twenty years as she was busy as a single parent and could only devote about half a day if that to her writing.

Astonishing Splashes of Colour tells a touching story of a woman who is searching for answers to questions about her dysfunctional family.  More than that would give too much away of the plot.  There are puzzles from page one and curious twists and turns throughout the book which deals with difficult subjects in a sensitive way.  It is essentially a book about loss.  There is much use of present tense to give a sense of immediacy and the narrator uses other members of the family to provide a picture of what is and was happening when she was absent.  Use of first person in this fast developing tale works well.   There is good pace to the book and I was unable to put the novel down, reading it in about four evenings in bed.

Clare's advice for writers is that they should decide what they really want to do.  If there are other things you like to do it may be better to do that as writing involves a lot of time and effort.  Writers should not have expectations as they are likely to be disappointed.  She feels it is necessary to inhabit your characters, not just the main character but think about how all the peripheral characters are thinking and feeling.

'If you really want to do it (write),' she says, 'be accepting of the situation that getting published is extremely difficult.'

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