Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
Please welcome Caroline Kington, author of ‘A Long Shadow’ here today! She has kindly answered my questions and I am very happy to share her answers with you. Read on to discover her inspiration and more about how she works as well as about this book!
For those of you in the UK, there’s also a rafflecopter giveaway with the chance for you to win a paperback copy of the book! Good luck to everyone who enters!
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
I live in a small village in the West Country and like many who are similarly placed, experienced at close quarters the devastation caused to the farming community by BSE and foot-and-mouth at the last decade of the previous century and the beginning of this. I was a tv documentary director at the time and made a doc feature for C4 news about the increased role of women in the farming community. This, it seemed to me, to be one of the consequences of sky-high rates of suicide in the farming community and the number of farms that closed. With the greater number of women farmers, the diversity in farm production grew, as well as non-traditional farming activities. It was such a critical time for our farming community and it seems to have gone largely unremarked by the rest of the nation. So I decided the countryside and a farm, and the impact of the whole tragedy would provide the principle setting for my novel. Around about this time I also made a documentary about a refuge. This and the question of domestic violence, then became a sub-plot in the novel.
What is your writing process?
I am quite slow to warm up to actually getting down to it. I roam the house, chewing over what I want to say, finding every excuse not to go and start work. Then an idea, a word, a phrase, a whole movement forward hits me and I go and start writing. I start at the beginning my story and work through to the end, no matter how weedy some of it seems. Once the first draft is written, I relax and start to enjoy the whole rewriting process.
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
I scribble random notes on any scrap of paper, but only really enjoy writing on my desk-top.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
Probably Charlie Tucker in the Summerstoke trilogy. He’s the character, I feel, that goes on the longest emotional journey. He started off as quite a rebellious spiv, which I really enjoyed, altho’ the publishers weren’t so keen. They want him to be more straightforwardly romantic, which he just isn’t. But also I’m very fond of a ghastly woman called Veronica, who looks down her long nose from astride her horse at all characters who are not her social equal.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
Most of the characters in A Long Shadow have a touch of sadness or tragedy about them (inevitable as it spans fifty years). I think I’d choose the central character, Kate. She is, in her way, heroic.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
It might sound daft, but the choice of names is to do with the name feeling right. I had to change one of the character’s names and it took quite a few days, trying one then another before I was satisfied that I’d made the right choice. A bit like naming your child.
Final point: There are many novels set in the countryside, but the countryside’s role is usually to provide a setting, a background. In A Long Shadow, the countryside challenges; it is about survival, life and death. But I like to think the tone is warm and optimistic.
When farmer Dan Maddicott is found shot dead in one of his fields, he leaves behind a young family and a farm deep in debt. Although the coroner records accidental death, village rumours suggest he has taken his own life so that the insurance payout can save his family from ruin.
Dan’s wife, Kate, refuses to believe the gossip and is determined to prove to herself, and her children, that his death was an accident. But could it have been murder? Kate discovers a set of old diaries containing secrets that may reveal how Dan really died.
Set against the backdrop of the farming crisis of the turn of the millennium, Caroline Kington’s absorbing family drama also tells the secret history of another resident of the farm, decades before, whose tragic tale will come to have major repercussions in the present day.
Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 50% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOURSHAD
Caroline Kington spent most of her working life in theatre and television, as a director, producer and founder of the fringe theatre company Antidote Theatre.
Since the death of her husband Miles Kington, the columnist and broadcaster, she has posthumously published three of his books: a humorous memoir of his illness, called How Shall I Tell the Dog?; a collection of his columns and other writings, The Best By Miles; and a collection of his celebrated ‘Franglais’ columns that had not appeared in book form before, Le Bumper Book of Franglais.
In her own right, she is the author of the Summerstoke trilogy of rural comedies. She insists that no character in the series is based on anybody from the small village near Bath where she has lived for many years. Nobody believes her.
Her novel A Long Shadow had its origins in a feature she made for Channel 4 News at the turn of this century about the pressures on farmers as a result of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease.
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Giveaway to Win 5 x PB copies of A Long Shadow (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the link to the Rafflecopter below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Many thanks to Caroline Kington for answering my questions and to Rachel’s Random Resources for providing materials for this post and organising the tour it is part of.