“Bones, doll parts, a shrew head, a camera.” – Goblin
Morning, creatures! I come bearing good news – Freight will be publishing my debut novel Goblin in 2017. I’m thrilled to be joining Team Freight (I’m pretending it’s like joining SHIELD and I’m hoping for a badge).
I wrote the first 20,000 words of Goblin for my Major Project at the end of the Edinburgh Napier Creative Writing MA in 2011, receiving some brilliant guidance from my tutors, Sam Kelly and David Bishop. In 2013, Book Week Scotland offered a pitch event at Looking Glass Books, so I went along (a nervous wreck!) and I pitched to agent Jenny Brown. She loved my idea and I sent her the completed manuscript in January 2015. Jenny signed me in April 2015. I did some editing work on Goblin over the summer (working with the brilliant Helen Sedgwick at Wildland) and Jenny started sending Goblin out to publishers towards the end of September 2015.
The offer from Freight came in on Friday 12th February and, weirdly, the first person I told about getting an offer was Terry Gilliam, only moments after I received the phonecall from Jenny. I said to Terry that Time Bandits and Baron Munchausen played a big role in my love of storytelling when I was a kid, and his film Tideland (dark, disturbing, beautiful and brilliant) was an influence on Goblin. I possibly maybe babbled at the poor man – he was very polite to this crazy person who’d jumped on his train just before he left Edinburgh after launching Words on the Street.
I’m very much looking forward to unleashing Goblin on the world. It’s been a long and difficult journey to get here – I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago, and trying to cope with chronic illness as I pursue a writing career has been a challenge. I wouldn’t have made it this far without the love and support of my amazing husband, Cinn, and all my wonderful friends.
I know there’s many challenges to come, but I’m going to take the time to savour the moment.
“All I want to do is live…” – Enola/Alone, Manic Street Preachers
Also, it’s twenty years since I almost died (Feb 1996), so to be celebrating my childhood dream (I wanted to be a novelist since I was seven-years-old) feels even sweeter. I’ll stand outside my old primary school and tell my ghost of the past “You did it. It took you thirty years, but you did it.”
To whet your appetites a year in advance, I’ll leave you with a synopsis of Goblin:
The Pet Massacre is a little-known episode in the second world war when Londoners voluntarily brought their dogs and cats to be killed. It’s estimated that around 400,000 pets were murdered in one week.
GOBLIN opens during the London Blitz and nine-year-old Goblin is running amok over the bomb sites, dog at heel, with her ragged gang of friends. One day she witnesses an atrocity. A fervent animal lover, Goblin is appalled by the piled up mounds of dead pets, the pet massacre, and she takes photographs – but she also captures on film an incident which leaves her traumatised. Goblin buries the camera in a cemetery and erases the episode from her mind. She’s evacuated to the country and on her return finds her house standing but parents and beloved brother gone. She creates her own family from stray animals, and her imaginary friends, Queen Isabella, the Lizard Queen and Monsta who stay with her even into adulthood. She tells stories to herself (and anyone who will listen) to try to make sense of her chaotic world, she joins a circus, grows up and, wherever she goes, she searches for her missing brother.
In 2011 London is again alight during the Riots, and by this time Goblin is an old woman, living in Edinburgh with her menagerie. The camera is discovered by a cemetery caretaker, the photographs are developed and released to the press, and Britain is outraged to learn about the massacre of pets seventy years before. But the police also discover the last photograph, and the nation’s shock changes to a murder investigation. The hunt is on for the adult who took those photographs as a child, the only one who can help police with enquiries. Should Goblin turn herself in and force herself to remember the event which changed her life forever? Only by writing down her memories can she come to terms with the past.