Aye Write Three Debut Authors (interviewed by Matthew Keeley)
Review by Mary Irvine
Aye Write 2022. Matthew Keeley interviewed three writers of debut novels: James Cahill, Julie Owen Moylan and Liam Konemann.
James Cahill ‘Tiepolo Blue’
This debut novel deals with an art restorer at Cambridge who is not particular enamoured with ‘modern’ art until he wakes up one morning to see a modern art installation through the window. Although the author draws on his own background, as art critic and academic, the extract read was possibly not the best choice to draw people in but, having said that, what did ‘draw’ me in was the quality of the writing. Stephen Fry summed up my views so eloquently that I make no apology for reproducing an extract: ‘This is the best novel I have read for ages. It is so beautifully written, not a false note in any sentence. It’s just masterly.’
Julie Owen Moylan
This author’s debut novel is set in New York in two time zones, 1950s and 1970s, with strands from those zones intertwining. In the 1950s two school teachers are living a lesbian relationship. They lead a very secret life until the constant fear of the shame of being ‘outed’ becomes reality. Some twenty years later a young woman is living in the same apartment and there is a different secret to be revealed.
The novel displays the author’s interest in the history of women and the problems encountered by women who are often at odds with the prevailing social norms. Her exploration of women’s relationships are presented sympathetically and with understanding.
This author’s debut novel, ‘The Arena of the Unwell’, is set in London, also deals with relationships. The protagonist is a young man of twenty two who is gay and experiencing an extended rough patch. Feeling he has nothing to get him through his life he drifts from alcohol and pubs to music events and gigs at night. During the day he struggles to cope with his job in a failing record shop. He is undergoing NHS therapy treatment but is afraid regarding what will happen when this comes to an end. Again this is a book that comes across as authentic. The author is drawing on what he knows.
Three very different styles, three very different authors, yet these debut novels do have a common thread – relationships. The novelists also share an ability to write well,
I chose to attend this particular event as I wasn’t acquainted with any of the authors or the interviewer. All the ‘big’ names are always well attended at the Aye Write festival. Next year please think about supporting the debut authors. You may feel some are not for you, but you may find a new author to follow. I know I did, although I’m leaving you to make up your own mind about which one…
With a background of English Literature and Film/TV Studies the interviewer is himself a writer as well as a full-time secondary school English teacher. Although concentrating on fiction he has produced a variety of writing in other genres. His debut science-fiction novel, ‘Turning the Hourglass’, was released by Black Rose Writing in April 2019. His coming-of-age novel ‘The Stone in My Pocket’ was published by The Conrad Press in March 2021, and is available in paperback on Amazon at £9.39.
Books may be available from other outlets, at different prices.
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