‘IT ALL STARTS WITH A JOURNEY INTO THE LIGHT’ Hitlist THE BEST BOOKS, COMICS & EVENTS*
✽✽ David O’Doherty, Claudia O’Doherty & Mike Ahern The 2008 if.comedy winner teams up with a pair of offbeat like minds to knock up 100 Facts About Pandas, none of which you hope can be remotely true, but are mainly rather hilarious. See review, page 35. Square Peg. ✽✽ KS Turner See preview, left. Ruby Blaze. ✽✽ Dan Rhodes Little Hands Clapping is the latest jet-black comedy from the acclaimed author and takes his idiosyncratic worldview onto a whole new level. See review, page 35. Canongate. ✽✽ Edward Ross In Filmish, this Edinburgh-based comic writer and filmmaker merges his two loves into a brief treatise on film theory. Happily, it’s not as stuffy as it might sound, as we are guided through cinematic creatures and filmy food. See review, page 35. Chiaroscuro. ✽✽ Norman MacLean This Celtic Connections event has the musician, actor, comedian and all-round Gaelic entertainer talking about his autobiography, The Leper’s Bell. Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Fri 22 Jan. ✽✽ Sarah Dunant The former Late Review host presents Getting Under Their Skins, in which she discusses how writers and artists can work together to create characters. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Fri 22 Jan. ✽✽ StAnza 2010 Poetry Festival Programme Launch Poet Kei Miller kicks off the programme for the annual St Andrews-based literary event. See picture, page 36. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, Thu 28 Jan. ✽✽ Ruth Thomas Here comes a reading from the talented author of short story collection Super Girl. The Edinburgh Bookshop, Thu 4 Feb.
Camilla Pia speaks to the infectious Somerset author KS Turner about a genre- defying debut novel and the compulsive power of her imagination
F rom the moment you pick up Before the Gods, with its tantalising mix of fantasy, science fiction, psychology, mythology, existential questioning and spirituality, it’s clear that we’re dealing with no ordinary fictional debut. But with its lofty title and incredibly weighty subject matter, it could have been a bit of a dry read, right? Not in the capable hands of infectiously enthusiastic full-time dreamer turned author KS Turner. ‘I am completely engrossed in writing at the moment,’ she tells me gleefully from her Somerset home, an abode she shares with ‘a posse of fluffy animals’. ‘Parts of the story are sitting in my head playing over like scenes in a film and I have to get it down, in fact I can’t write fast enough. When this happens I don’t want to sleep and I love it because it’s what all authors dream about: your imagination just takes over.’
Despite an obvious passion for her craft, KS (Kate to her friends) hasn’t always wanted to be a writer. She grew up in Norwich, studied Art and Design at Central St Martins and Middlesex University in London and has dabbled in everything from playing music and chess to sculpture and studying maths. Once she put pen to paper, however, she knew she had found her metier for life. ‘I’m always having very vivid and very unusual dreams. In fact, the dreams specific to Before the Gods actually started when I was a child. Then in 2004 I started having lots of them in quick succession, sometimes all in one night. So I started taking notes on them because each one
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would be from a different perspective, as if I was watching a different character.’
So what was it about these dreams that made Turner think she was onto something special? ‘I think the strength of them and also the characters I saw were so striking and so beautiful and they had such depth. The situations I was dreaming about were so unusual that they were already a story.’ For Turner, it then all became about how she would express her night visions. ‘At first I tried to illustrate them but the drawings weren’t enough, so I started writing, and the more I wrote the more it turned into a novel and, now, novels. It was a eureka moment; it was then I knew I was meant to be an author and I haven’t looked back since. To find something that grips me with such fervour makes me feel very fortunate.’ Before the Gods is the first part of what promises to be a compelling trilogy. She has just finished Tumultus which is due out in the summer, while Time will complete the series. For now . . . ‘It all starts with the journey into the light and life and creation and consciousness, and Tumltus is the journey into the shadow,’ she explains. ‘The third book is the effect of time itself on all choices and all fates, it weaves the darkness and the light together. But it’s so unique that I can’t imagine these characters just finishing at the end of it. In fact, I think they’ll have many more stories to tell.’
Before the Gods is published by Ruby Blaze Publishing on Mon 25 Jan.