She first made literary waves with a family of male engineers in The Lighthouse Stevensons. Now with her debut novel, BELLA BATHURST has created a world where teenage girls rule the roost. But will her mum like it? Words: Brian Donaldson

ne wintry Stirling day. Bella Bathurst realised that the world of doorstepping journalism wasn't for her. Standing underneath the tenement block of Thomas Hamilton’s mother. she began to throw snowballs at the woman‘s window to try to gain access and ask why her son had walked into Dunblane primary school and massacred 16 children and their helpless teacher.

‘I felt like shit at the end of it.‘ she confesses in the relative autumnal calm of an Edinburgh boozer. ‘There's that journalistic thing where you‘ve got something of pure gold. that avarice towards a great quote or subject. But at the same time there’s that dark feeling on a human level that you've done something morally dodgy.‘

For Bathurst‘s mother. the most dodgy thing her eldest daughter has done is write Special. Her debut novel about a bunch of teenage girls on a school trip to the Forest of Dean upset Mrs B so much that she suggested with increasing assertion that the author of The Lighthouse .S'n’vwzsrnzs‘ should contemplate dipping into her big box of pseudonymic tricks.

‘She speaks to friends and tells them that I‘m writing another non-