Today I’m delighted to share an Author Q&A with Gail Aldwin. Gail’s latest contemporary fiction novel This Much Huxley Knows will be released early July 2021. Before the release of her latest book, Gail has kindly agreed to chat with me and share details of her latest book. Before I chat with Gail here’s a quick summary of This Much Huxley Knows.
Book Cover Notes
I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.
‘Read this and feel young again’ – Joe Siple, author of The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride
‘Moving and ultimately upbeat’ – Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did
‘A joyous novel with the wonderfully exuberant character of Huxley’ – Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas
Author Q&A with Gail Aldwin
Firstly, welcome to Touring Tales Blog. Thank you so much for chatting with me today.
So Gail, how long have you been writing and what inspired you to start?
I came to writing much later than most, although the seed was planted in my twenties when I lived overseas and wrote letters home. My family were always fascinated by anecdotes I shared during an overland journey, travelling on a double decker bus from London to Kathmandu. Later, I lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Spain and my mum has kept my letters in a box file. It’s amazing to read my young voice. When I started university as a mature student, I worked on pieces for performance and then much later, after my children had become teenagers, I was able to really focus on writing fiction. I’ve been writing for publication for over a decade.
Can you introduce us to your book ‘This Much Huxley Knows’?
The novel is contemporary fiction and uses a young narrator to shine a light on community tensions following the Brexit referendum. Huxley is seven years old and knows a lot about life but is particularly concerned about friendships. Ben is only his friend outside school, because he likes football and Huxley doesn’t. Samira is friendly, but she’s a girl. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Tell us about your book cover. What was the cover design process like for you?
The cover for This Much Huxley Knows was straight forward. For my debut novel The String Games, I worked with an illustrator and the process was very involved but it produced an award-winning cover. (The story revolves around the legacy of a missing child.) With This Much Huxley Knows I wanted a cover to reflect the exuberance of my young narrator. I looked through many istock images until I came upon the right one. The cover designer at Black Rose Writing then added all the written details. I like the font he used as the title is easy to read even as a thumbnail.
Where is the story set and why did you choose this setting?
When my children were young, we lived in a suburb of London which was regarded as an urban village thanks to the community links. I wanted to celebrate this through my novel and I absolutely loved revisiting in my mind places from our family history. Such as the park and the allotments, which helped to create the fictional setting of Nevern.
What do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
Readers can find humour in the novel even though some serious issues are addressed. It was a pleasure to write This Much Huxley Knows and re-experience the emotions, impetuosity, curiosity and the care for others children show. A fellow author who also writes about intergenerational friendships, Joe Siple, kindly wrote an endorsement for This Much Huxley Knows. He says, ‘read this and feel young again’. That’s exactly what I’d like readers to do.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?
Some of the incidents in the story are based upon things that happened to my children when they were young. For example, they both loved swimming, so it was easy to develop scenes at the swimming pool. I also worked with young children in schools for twenty years so I drew from that time to give an accurate representation of relationships between children and teachers.
What kind of research do you do before you begin to write a new book?
It depends what I’m writing. For contemporary novels research relates mainly to character development and scene setting. I need to have a clear idea of what each character looks like before I can begin to develop their voice. I also like to know the geography of the setting, so I don’t get confused in moving the characters around.
What three words would describe your writing process?
Joyful, exasperating, toil
Do you have a dedicated writing space /desk?
When I’m at home in Dorset, I write in a room which overlooks water meadows. Unfortunately, I have to share the space with my husband, so all my folders, files and papers are shoved to one end while he has the lion’s share of the space. This year we’ve let our house as a holiday home so we can enjoy and itinerant existence. For the two months we lived in Edinburgh, I wrote on a dining table. Now we’re in Cambridge, I again have a desk but this is in our bedroom.
Lastly, are you working on a new project at present? If so, can you share a sneak preview with us?
My work in progress is called Little Swot. It’s a dual timeline novel initially told from the viewpoint of a menopausal and redundant journalist in 2010. Stephanie decides to create a podcast which looks into the disappearance of sixteen-year-old Carolyn in 1978. Through the alternating structure of the two viewpoints, readers engage with Stephanie’s investigation and also connect with Carolyn’s experience of infatuation for a teacher and exploitation. This is a new venture for me, into the realms of crime fiction.
Wow, that sounds very interesting, thanks for sharing a sneak peak of Little Swot. I look forward to hearing more about your new book soon. In the meantime, thank you so much for joining me today. I wish you all the best with your current book This Much Huxley Knows.
I’m looking forward to reading Gail’s latest book This Much Huxley Knows over the next week. I shall be sharing my book review here on Touring Tales Book on the 20th July as part of Gail’s exciting book launch. So keep an eye out for my review soon. In the meantime why not order your own copy of This Much Huxley Knows and read along with me in early July.
About the Author
Novelist, poet and scriptwriter, Gail Aldwin’s debut coming-of-age novel The String Games was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize and the DLF Writing Prize 2020. Following a stint as a university lecturer, Gail’s children’s picture book Pandemonium was published. Gail loves to appear at national and international literary and fringe festivals. Prior to Covid-19, she volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around, Gail writes at her home overlooking water meadows in Dorset.
Where to Find Gail Online
Where to Buy
Further book info
- Published Date: 8th July 2021
- Publisher: Black Rose Writing
- Page Count: 224
I hope you’ve enjoyed my author Q&A chat with Gail Aldwin. Don’t forget to check out Gail’s previous books:
I love to read using Kindle Unlimited. Why not give it a try 30 day FREE Trial.