From 2017-2018, I was living in Cardiff and completing my MA in Creative Writing at Cardiff University. During my studies there, I was a contributor to the South Wales entertainment and lifestyle magazine, Buzz Magazine. Though I wrote a selection of theatre and restaurant reviews, I used to nab the book reviews as soon as the content plan was distributed. To name a couple, May, Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave, Slip of a Fish and The Blue Tent.
That’s how I got my hands on a book called The Hurtle of Hell, and it piqued my interest in the publisher because it was so unique (as you’ll read shortly). So, when reaching out to publishers when I started expanding Have You Read This, my first port of call was this fabulous independent publisher, Eye Books, or more specifically, their fiction imprint, Lightning Books. Here are some stellar choices from their catalogue, which are available for purchase on their website.
Stefano Cartwright is on holiday with his boyfriend when he nearly drowns. In those moments before he is resuscitated, though, something quite remarkable happens – he sees God. The only person more shocked about this than him (given his atheism and a string of other reasons rooted in his dysfunctional familial relationships), is God himself, who has never experienced anyone seeing him back.
The chapters swap between Stefano’s sequential existential crisis (a pretty natural response to a near-death experience, though nobody believes he actually saw the big man himself) and God’s unexpectedly long trip to earth which results in him having to navigate London’s public transport system (lord help him?)
Read my review for Buzz Magazine here.
Bella Michaels is a young, pretty nurse at a care home in a normal, often-uneventful Australian town called Strathdee. But when she is abducted and brutally murdered, it catches the attention of the media and a whirlwind of drama hits her sister, Chris, who is left in the wake of this tragedy.
Though the nature of this type of story might imply a crime novel where we get answers and catch a big scary bad guy at the end of it, that’s just what the book rejects – this notion that this sort of thing is a terrifying anomaly rather than something not only possible but common in our society. So, yes, it’s about the individual stories and lives of those affected by events like this. But it’s more than that. It’s about the kind of world that allows it to happen and a media-fuelled insistence on extrapolating symbolism and movements from experience in order to make sense of it.
The Drover’s Wife is a classic Australian short story by Henry Lawson about a woman in the Australian bush who, when threatened by a snake, stays awake all night to kill it. Ryan O’Neill has retold the story 101 times in a number of different, creative ways. There’s a high-school history essay, a Shakespearean play, a pop song… 101 of them. All different.
Thomas Gainsborough was an English portrait painter in the 18th century who had a famed rivalry with Sir Joshua Reynolds. Simon Edge – who also wrote The Hurtle of Hell – has imagined a scope for this rivalry in such a delightful way.
First there’s the present, where a group of TV producers are making a show, Britain’s Got Treasures, where the public are encouraged to bring their treasured antiques for valuation. An old woman brings a painting which she claims is a Gainsborough – only she’s laughed off, because it’s a farcical painting where the portrait’s subject is depicted with donkey ears. This is interjected with scenes from the past, from the perspective of Gainsborough and his staff. Thus, we see whether it’s possible that the hideous painting at Britain’s Got Treasures was deserving of the ridicule it received…
Read my review for Buzz Magazine here.
I’m giving away a free copy of A Right Royal Face-Off. International applications welcome. You must be over 18 and willing to give me an address to send the book to if you win. Unfortunately, you need to have an Instagram account to enter. All you have to do is: