After a beloved family member is drowned in a devastating flood, Bede and Elin Sherwell want nothing more than to be left in peace to pursue their off-grid life. But when the very real prospect of fracking hits their village, they are drawn in to the frontline protests. During a spring of relentless rain, a series of mysterious threats and suspicious accidents put friendships on the line and the Sherwells' marriage under unbearable tension. Is there a connection with their uncle's death? As the river rises under torrential rain, pressure mounts, Bede's sense of self begins to crumble and Elin is no longer sure who to believe or what to believe in.
Thanks to Emma at damp pebbles tours and Honno Press for my copy and invite to the blog tour for this terrific new thriller from Alison Layland, Riverflow,
Today I’ve got a bit of Q and A with Alison Layland for you..
First of all, can you please tell us about your latest book:
Riverflow is a novel of village tensions, environmental protests and family secrets, played out against a background of fracking and floods on the river Severn.
Where do you find inspiration for your novels?
My characters and their stories are inspired by ongoing observations and an active imagination! I love stories about characters’ past mistakes coming back to haunt them, and conflicts between people from different walks of life.
The themes and background to my novels relate to issues I’m passionate about; in Someone Else’s Conflict this is both the lasting effects of war and the problems facing economic migrants, and in Riverflow it’s my passion for the environment: the growing ecological crisis, how to deal with it and how this affects individuals.
I’m also inspired by music – I have a playlist for each novel I write – and pictures – I’m a hoarder of atmospheric photos and postcards.
Who is your writing hero?
JRR Tolkien was such an influence on me in my childhood and teenage years.
Which book do you wish you had written?
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban – a post-apocalyptic novel about a young man’s coming-of-age in a post-nuclear Kent several centuries in the future. I love the inventiveness of the language, the way half-remembered history and science become legend, and (despite the setting) the warmth and humour.
What advice would you give to someone considering taking the plunge and attempting to write their first novel?
Go for it! Write for the enjoyment of writing. I’m not much of a planner, so in my first drafts, I’m very much following my nose, so I plan and edit a lot in subsequent drafts – research and meticulous revision are essential, but don’t let them stop you in the early stages.
If you could have a dinner party and invite three other writers (living or dead), who would you invite?
Only three? An unlikely combination, but maybe Margaret Atwood, TC Boyle and China Miéville – they all seem so witty and insightful in different ways; I’d enjoy sitting back and listening to the conversation!
What’s the one question you wish I had asked and what’s the answer?
Do you do a lot of research for your novels and how do you go about it?
In addition to reading widely, both non-fiction and fiction, in the subject areas I’m interested in, together with extensive online research, I also like hands-on experience, including visiting my locations. For Someone Else’s Conflict with its background in the Croatian conflict, this was an excellent excuse to spend time in Croatia and the other Balkan countries, and I even began learning the language to get a feel for my Croatian characters. For Riverflow, set in Shropshire and therefore much closer to home, I was able to combine research with lovely writing retreats, as I booked a couple of AirBnB stays on a permaculture farm and an offgridsmallholding; similarly, going to support the anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road in Lancashire was something I wanted to do, but also gave me excellent insights for my novel.
Alison Layland is a writer and translator. Raised in Newark and Bradford, she now lives on the Wales/Shropshire border. She studied Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge University and translates from German, French and Welsh into English. Her published translations include a number of bestselling novels.
You can buy Riverflow by following these links..
And you can follow Alison here...