This is a little gem of a book that perfectly captures the small and important moments in everyday lives. Fleeting emotions and lost opportunities, happy coincidences and sudden realisations, words unsaid and thoughts suppressed, a lifetime of quiet love, duty, and the essential spiritual isolation of each individual among many.
These themes are explored through the story of Ted and Rene, married in the momentary optimism of the post-war fifties, staying together in their traditional roles of wage-earner and home-maker through the rest of the century. Cath Barton has an exquisite eye for detail and a deft touch with words.
The layers of the story unpeel like an onion, each separate and perfect in its place and time, full of translucent beauty if only you can look at it the right way.
In the Sweep of the Bay is a touching and poignant novella, elegantly written in evocative language. In some ways the story is Austen-esque, not in the dry humour, but in the intelligent understanding of daily human relationships.
If you like books by Elizabeth Strout, Sally Rooney, and Ann Patchett, you will enjoy this flawless novella.
*The book will be published in November 2020, and pre-orders are available now. This little book would make the perfect Christmas present for the intelligent reader on your list of gift-receivers.
# I subscribe to Louise Walters Books, so I am very fortunate in receiving advance copies. I’m very keen on the model she uses, where subscribers are like patrons of the arts – we put in a small amount of money to assist this quality independent press to stay in business, and get fab returns in books! It reminds me if the Naked Wines model (yep, we subscribe to that too), where we put in some money each month, and every now and then we check out some bottles of quality wine from small indie producers. This is customer-funding that means great products can be made and we have paid in advance. Win-win!
Laura Laakso, my fabulous guest today on Last Word of the Week, is a Finn who has spent most of her adult life in England. She currently lives in Hertfordshire with her two dogs (and you know I love dog people). Books and storytelling have always been a big part of Laura’s life, from writing fanfiction to running tabletop roleplaying games and now writing original fiction. When she is not writing, editing or plotting, Laura works as an accountant. With two degrees in archaeology, she possesses frighteningly useful skills for disposing of or digging up bodies, and if her internet search history is anything to go by, she is on several international watch lists.
Laura’s debut novel, Fallible Justice, was published last November by the excellent Louise Walters Books and her next two books in the Wilde Investigations series, Echo Murder and Roots of Corruption are due for publication in June 2019 and March 2020. Laura’s Wilde Investigations are paranormal crime novels set in modern day London, but with magic, murder and general mayhem.
LWOTW: Laura, it’s wonderful to meet you! Tell us about when you first realised that you are a writer.
Laura: Probably back at university, when I was preparing a Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying campaign. I got completely carried away with the world I’d created and suddenly realised that I cared more about the back story of my supporting characters than what my players were going to do in the present. Naturally, I had to write everything down. Many years later, I began dabbling in fanfiction, until an extraordinary beta reader showed that I have the skills to write original fiction and told me that I should do just that. My debut novel, Fallible Justice, was dedicated to him as a thank you.
That’s a great story! These days, do you rely more on dreams, imagination, and planning?
Dreams and imagination are the greatest tools a writer has. Daring to dream big and imagine a different world, and then putting them into words is what makes writing so exciting. You never know what your mind creates, both awake and asleep!
That said, I’m a big fan of planning these days, given that I write paranormal crime novels. Having a detailed plan in place before I start writing not only helps me remember all the details, but gives me confidence in the story arcs and red herrings. If I draw up a story progression and it looks more like a tree than a straight line, I know I’m off to a good start. About half the time, my characters ignore the plans completely, but I feel better knowing I at least tried to plan the story.
I love characters who ignore plans! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
Having readers contact me to say how much they loved one or more of my characters. It’s one thing for me to adore the people I’ve made up, but for others to share those feelings is simply extraordinary. My first reader even wrote me a fanfiction drabble about one of my characters, which I will always treasure. I recently dropped a few hints about my evil plans for future books and made people very anxious. I even received a few threats were I to start hurting their favourite characters.
Oh, that’s a sure sign of success! What are you most looking forward to at the moment?
You mean aside from the good night’s sleep? My publisher and I are about to start work on Roots of Corruption, the third book in my Wilde Investigations series. I absolutely adored writing the story and I can’t wait to see how the editing process turns it into a beautiful novel. I’m also ridiculously excited to see what our talented cover designer Jennie Rawlings will come up with for this book.
If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Dream boldly. The world is full of rules and restrictions, both in terms of writing and in general, and you need believe that you can do the things that keep you going. Be ambitions, but write with self-compassion.
And finally: Who would you be if you were a fictional character?
I’d love to be Miss Marple’s regular sidekick!
You’d be perfect in the role. And all those cups of tea and biscuits, how fabulous :-). Thank you so much for sharing with me today. Go Wilde!
Louise Walters, the imaginative powerhouse behind Louise Walters Books (open for submissions!), is today’s guest. Louise Walters Books is a small indie publisher focussing on high quality output in adult and YA fiction in all genres. Louise is a first reader, and also a writer, and now editor and publisher.
LWOTW: Welcome Louise! So, when did you write your first story?
Louise: When I was ten years old. It was about a family of three children who spend the summer holidays with their cousin in her big rambling house in the country. It was full of adventures, and very episodic. I still have it!
That sounds like a perfect read for a holiday. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?
What do I think of them? All three are important for writing. I day dream about my characters. I imagine conversations with them. I plan, to a degree; more with screenplays, less with novels.
That’s a few interesting conversations you must have. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?
I’ve had some amazing experiences since I found my agent for my first novel, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase, back in 2012. My debut being published was really something, a dream come true.
Long live such dreams, eh? What are you most busy with at the moment?
I am now a small indie publisher as well as a writer, and working on my authors’ novels keeps me very busy! I’ve been fortunate to find some wonderfully talented writers and I can’t wait to share their work with readers. Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso is the first book published by Louise Walters Books.
That’s marvellous – more power to you! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Don’t aspire. Write. Rid yourself of romantic notions of “being a writer”. Writers write, that’s all there is to it!
That’s great advice! And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?