Source: Alison Flood at guardian.co.uk
SJ Bolton excels at summoning up the claustrophobic atmosphere of rural village life. Her third novel, Blood Harvest, is her creepiest yet. The setting is a village on the remote Pennine moors, where the villagers still slaughter all their own meat in a “blood harvest” ritual, “bone men” are burned on All Souls’ Day and where a series of blonde little girls have gone missing in recent years. The Fletcher family, who have a beautiful fair-haired toddler of their own, Millie, are the newcomers who have “built their big, shiny new house on the crest of the moor, in a town that time seemed to have left to mind its own business” and – they should really have known better – in the middle of a graveyard.
At first, the children love their new home, but soon they start to hear voices from behind the gravestones and to glimpse a little girl with long hair and “something very wrong with her face” – initially in the church grounds, but then watching them while they sleep. “‘Millie. Millie fall,'” she tells 10-year-old Tom in the middle of the night; he’s terrified about his little sister’s safety. Concerned he’s showing symptoms of schizophrenia, his parents send him to Evi, a psychiatrist with a bad leg and a pugilistic attitude who is the damaged heroine of this new Bolton book.
READ MORE HERE
TEN RULES FOR WRITING FICTION
Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray. Inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, we asked authors for their personal dos and don’ts
Elmore Leonard: Using adverbs is a mortal sin
1 Never open a book with weather. If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways than an Eskimo to describe ice and snow in his book Arctic Dreams, you can do all the weather reporting you want.
2 Avoid prologues: they can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in non-fiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want. There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, but it’s OK because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks.”
READ MORE HERE
What do you think of today’s book news? Have you read Blood Harvest?
What do you think of the writing tips?
Join us in the forum to discuss!