Friday 10 November 2017


Top Picks From Transworld's Debut Fiction Showcase

Transworld (part of Penguin Random House) was one of the first publishers to ever invite me to a book event all the way back in 2013, and I have been a big fan of their diverse list since. I've reviewed a ton of their women's fiction books for Novelicious throughout the years and even picked up a thriller or two (which I don't tend to read very much normally). However, most exciting I've found reading new voices and their annual Debut Fiction Showcase provides the perfect opportunity to discover what's coming up next.

The event took place at the Charlotte Street Hotel in London and was jam-packed with some very exciting authors that have been added to the Transworld list for 2018: actress Ruth Jones (Never Greener), radio presenter Simon Mayo (Mad Blood Stirring), former CIA analyst Karen Cleveland (Need to Know), Rebecca Fleet (The House Swap) and Anna Youngson (Meet Me at the Museum). Their adult fiction debuts are a great mixture of thrillers, history and general fiction, ensuring there is something coming out to suit a whole host of literary tastes.

I'd already done a bit of research on the titles in advance of the event, but it's always actually hearing the authors discuss their work, writing inspirations and their process that gets me properly excited and this time around was no exception. Some highlights from the Q&As included:

Ruth Jones' Never Greener (5 April 2018) started out as a screenplay all the way back in 2003 and so when she wrote the novel she already had a structure to start from, with the book allowing her to dive deeper into the characters' heads. The story revolves around the fact that we're all very different people at different points in our lives, and what this means.

Karen Cleveland worked as a CIA analyst for eight years and so had that experience to draw upon for her spy novel Need to Know (25 January 2018) in which someone at the CIA has to investigate Russian sleeper spies only to discover her husband is one of them... dun dun dun. Karen joked that she was warned when joining the CIA about new people entering her life and at the same time she met her then husband who seemed too good to be true, which is the idea that stuck for the book.

Rebecca Fleet said that domestic noir novels have been the ones she has most engaged with herself in recent years, which is why her most recent work is within this genre. Though, she said, The House Swap (3 May 2018) simply pushed elements she already put in place in previous books a step further. She upped the suspense, but it wasn't a 360-degree change from her more literary novels.

Anna Youngson shared the fascinating inspiration for her novel Meet Me at the Museum (14 June 2018), in which two vastly different people correspond through letters, as bog body Tollund Man. She also shared a great writing tip she was once given: don't get it right, get it written. In other words, the more you write, the better it gets.

Simon Mayo's Mad Blood Stirring (19 April 2018), finally, is about a piece of history that has been hiding in plain sight. Keen Shakespeare fans may recognise the title as being in Romeo and Juliet, and the reason for this is because his story centres around what is thought to be the first production of the play by an all non-white cast... in a prison in Dartmoor in the 1800s.

All the books presented on the evening sound fantastic, but there are always some that appeal more than others because of personal reading preferences. For that reason, my top picks of the night are Need to Know by Karen Cleveland (the one I'm most exciting for as it sounds like an edge-of-the seat page-turner); super intriguing The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet (which sounds like an Airbnb experience gone terribly wrong); and, finally, everyone was talking about how incredible the characters in Never Greener by Ruth Jones are and the emotional roller-coaster reading the book was, so needless to say I picked up a copy of that too!

Many thanks to team Transworld for the invite and for hosting such a great event, I can't wait to read the amazing debuts I picked up on the night!

🎵 Listening to: Fall Out Boy – What's This
🔹 Mood: Cold

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