"Gavin and Stacey" creator Ruth Jones and BBC Radio Two's Simon Mayo were among the debut novelists presenting their work at a showcase of 2018 talent hosted by Transworld yesterday (7th November) at the Charlotte Hotel in central London.
At the event, for press and bloggers, Transworld m.d. Larry Finlay commented on Transworld's "most incredible track record, in particular when it comes to publishing debuts", citing the succeses of The Girl on the Train, The Couple Next Door and Before I Go to Sleep, among other titles, including from authors Barney Norris and Joseph Knox. "So we know what we're doing," he promised.
Mayo's historical novel Mad Blood Stirring, which centres on American troops holed up in Dartmoor prison during the 1800s, has already been optioned for film with Jack Thorne - of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" fame - attached to write the screen play. The book is released in April. During a Q&A with journalist Alex Clarke, he advised: "Writing about what you know is a great writing tip, but I don't find much pleasure about the BBC; write about what you want to know and what you find fascinating."
Jones, talking about her debut Never Greener, also out April, revealed it was based on a screenplay she wrote in 2003 that had been inspired by the letters and diaries she wrote when she was younger, showing her just how much she'd changed. She went on to develop this into a "Sliding Doors"-esque novel about second chances and the dangers of taking them. "She does go back and, I don't want to spoil it, but it's an interesting journey!" said Jones, adding of her transition to novelist: "What I loved is being able to go inside the characters' heads."
The event also featured CIA analyst Karen Cleveland, whose "whip smart" spy thriller Need to Know asks how well you can know another person; Rebecca Fleet, who moves from literary fiction to her first domestic noir with The House Swap; and 70-year-old writer Anne Youngson, author of the "jolting yet tender" epistolary novel Meet Me At The Museum.
CIA analyst Cleveland also spoke of close-to-home inspiration for her book about what happens when a CIA counter-intelligence analyst discovers her own husband is a Russian agent: "I actually met my future husband around the same time I started work for the CIA. He seemed too good to be true ... Luckily he's just a great guy but it stuck!" Acquired in a 24-hour "breakneck" pre-empt, it publishes as a "superlead" for Transworld in January.
Left to right: blogger Zarina of Page to Stage reviews; Ruth Jones; editorial director Frankie Gray; deputy marketing director Vicky Palmer