Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Author in focus - Iain Broome

I am delighted to welcome author Iain Broome to my blog today! Iain's debut novel, A is for Angelica, is published by Legend Press.

What gave you the initial inspiration for A is for Angelica?

Well, I'm not sure I knew I wanted to write this particular novel until I started writing it. It began as something of a character piece, where I had this middle-aged man curtain-twitching from his bedroom window. I also had the big reveal, that he had a wife who was there with him, '...asleep upstairs'.

In fact, I'd already written 10,000 words before I really decided what the book would be about. I was in the pub one Friday evening and a woman had a stroke on the table next to us. The ambulance came and took her to hospital, but I was struck by how easily life carried on around her. Even the group she was continued to chat and drink once she'd gone.

Anyway, it left an impression and I knew that I wanted to write about stroke and illness, especially its effect on family and loved ones.

Did the characters take on a life of their own as you began to write?

Yes, they really did. I think good characters are at the heart of every great book. You can have all the plot twists in the world, but if the characters aren't interesting, then what's the point? A good book makes you feel something. You need to care about what happens. It's all about characters.

As an author, I think I found my voice through Gordon Kingdom, the narrator in A is for Angelica. He started out a fairly quirky kind of a chap, but the more I wrote, the more I felt guided by him as a character.

Has writing always been your main passion?

Well, I loved reading from a very early age and I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was in my teens. I went to Sheffield Hallam University because I knew its English degree had a significant creative writing element to it, and that its MA Writing course had a great reputation. I wanted to put myself in the best possible position for getting published.

That said, I thought for some time that I was going to be a professional footballer. I know a lot of people say that, but I was actually quite good! I was in Notts County's youth academy from nine years old and left when I was 16 to do my A levels. But alas, it wasn't to be. I think things turned out for the best, really.

What was your journey to getting published like?

Pretty normal, I think. I wrote Angelica as part of Sheffield Hallam's MA Writing course, which meant I had a good idea of how to approach agents and how the industry works.

I managed to get an agent pretty quickly, but it did take a little longer and a reasonable amount of editing work before the book found a happy home at Legend Press. Again, that's pretty normal, especially in the current climate.

How was it seeing your finished book for the first time?

Pretty fantastic, I have to say. Although I was very lucky in that I was able to choose who designed my cover. I worked with hugely respected and rather brilliant Sheffield artist, Jonathan Wilkinson, who gave me a sneak preview before it was finally finished.

Seeing almost a decade's worth of work come together was very special. Still is in fact!

Where do you write?

Well, good question. Last year we bought our first house and then a week after moving in my wife fell pregnant with (identical) twins. What would have been my work area is now 90% nursery. I've managed to blag a small bureau, which was my granddad's, in the corner of the room, but it's hardly a writer's paradise.

To be honest though, I think that you can more or less work anywhere. It's all about having the ideas and the time. As a new parent, I'd happily take an extra hour or two a week to write over a spiffy new desk and view of the ocean.

Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I love Ray Carver's short stories and they are a big influence on my writing. But I also enjoy Margaret Atwood and, actually, my old tutor, Simon Crump. I also like to read a lot of non-fiction and I'm currently half way through Identically Different by Tim Spector. It's about genetics and twin studies, so I have a vested interest!

What do you do to take a break from writing?

I currently spend most of my time rearing identical twins and little else. Not that I'm complaining. They're ace. I suppose I also put a lot of time into my online world, usually my blog and podcast for readers and writers, Write for Your Life.

What do you have on the go/what is next for you with regards to writing?

Well, I'm working on a second novel, but I'm not far enough into yet to say any more, because I know how quickly things can change! There's a screenplay that I keep coming back to now and again too.

I've also got 20,000 words of non-fiction that I'm collaborating on and currently editing. It's about writing and being a writer, but from a very specific point of view. Hopefully, we'll be able to release it later this year in one form or another. 

Thanks very much to Iain for featuring on the blog and answering my questions.

A is for Angelica is published by Legend Press

About the novel:
Set in a northern mining town, A is for Angelica deftly draws us into the secretive life of troubled Gordon Kingdom. Gordon struggles with the fate of his seriously ill wife and patiently observes the unusual goings-on of his neighbours in Cressingham Vale. The arrival of the enigmatic Angelica prompts Gordon to make difficult decisions, as well as to embark on a flurry of cake baking. The book elegantly weaves prosaic tragedy, dark comedy and Hitchcockian menace.


  1. Having lived in a northern mining town, my great-grandmother having died of a stroke this sounds like a book I'd really identify with. Great stuff, I'll be certain to keep an eye out for it.

    1. It sounds like this could be an interesting read for you Tracy, with some of the aspects touching close to home. Thanks for commenting.


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