*Edited to include details of the Tony Hogan competition - see below*
So I wanted to write a few words about Kerry Hudson's debut novel before she gets here on Tuesday as part of her mammoth blog tour.
I've never met Kerry in 'real life', though it kinda feels like I have from reading her book and the exchanges we've had on Twitter and email. Mostly it's the book though, which Kerry says herself is based on her own upbringing. It helps that we're the same age, children of the 80s and teenagers of the 90s. So there were many cultural references that delighted me as I read Tony Hogan (My So-Called Life and lime green flares were both particularly close to my heart). And there are a few similarities between myself and main character Janie - though she had a much tougher time than I did. But we did some of the same stuff, in a similar environment, at the same time.
But it wasn't just the familiar feeling, there's an honesty in the writing, that rare feeling of truth and energy that comes from reading stories you believe in. I felt like when I read Kate Atkinson's Behind The Scenes At The Museum. This family got under my skin, I wanted the best for them, I recognised them. The writing is so strong, so funny and grabbing (yes, grabbing).
Here's the blurb:
When Janie Ryan is born, she's just the latest in a long line of Ryan women, Aberdeen fishwives to the marrow, always ready to fight. Her violet-eyed Grandma had predicted she'd be sly, while blowing Benson and Hedges smoke rings over her Ma's swollen belly. In the hospital, her family approached her suspiciously, so close she could smell whether they'd had booze or food for breakfast. It was mostly booze.Tony Hogan tells the story of a Scottish childhood of filthy council flats and B&Bs, screeching women, feckless men, fags and booze and drugs, the dole queue and bread and marge sandwiches. It is also the story of an irresistible, irrepressible heroine, a dysfunctional family you can't help but adore, the absurdities of the eighties and the fierce bonds that tie people together no matter what. Told in an arrestingly original -- and cry-out-loud funny -- voice, it launches itself headlong into the middle of one of life's great fights, between the pull of the past and the freedom of the future. And Janie Ryan, born and bred for combat, is ready to win.
and it's available on Amazon here.
Kerry's visit on Tuesday will be magnificent. I know because I've read what she's sharing with us. When Vanessa Gebbie was here for the launch of The Coward's Tale, I asked her to write a letter to herself before she became a writer. It was a hugely popular blog post and readers and writers alike enjoyed Vanessa's letter. So I asked Kerry if she'd like to do the same, and she has, and the result is wonderful. Come back on Tuesday to see what now-Kerry has to say to 17-year old Kerry.
This is open to anyone who comments on one of Kerry's blog posts for the Tony Hogan tour. Usually a blog tour involves a draw for a free copy of the book that's being launched. This prize is above and beyond any I have seen before.
Official details from Kerry:
This prize draw is open to anyone who hosts or comments on a Tony Hogan post. There is no purchase necessary. There is no limit to how many times a name can be entered i.e. if you comment on three blogs you have three entries but it's only possible to win one prize per person. The winning names will be drawn at random on Wednesday 1st August and announced on my Tumblr blog and on Twitter.
1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes consist of:
1st prize - A three chapter or synopsis critique plus afternoon tea at Beas of Bloomsbury, London (at a mutually beneficial date and time) with Juliet Pickering from the AP Watt Literary Agency to discuss your critique. Plus a personalised copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before he Stole My Ma.
2nd prize - A literary hamper containing a personalised copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma as well as three of my most recommended writing theory books and Hotel d Chocolate chocolates to enjoy while reading them.
3rd prize - A personalised copy of Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma.
Please note this post is not the one to leave comments on. Kerry will be here on Tuesday with her letter to herself, but if you want to get commenting elsewhere now (and why wouldn't you?) you could head over to Sara Crowley's blog where she is today (Sunday) or The Little Reader where she will be tomorrow. Wait until tomorrow to go there. Or she won't be there. Unless it is tomorrow today. I'm going now...