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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Blog Tour - What She Left by T R RIchmond

Today I am joined by T R RIchmond, one of Amazon's Rising Stars of 2015,  to celebrate the publication on their new novel, What She Left.

This haunting, beautifully written and beautifully crafted literary crime novel tells the story of Alice Salmon and what she leaves behind. Using a very original and contemporary structure of facebook posts, texts, tweets, diary entries, letters and exchanges with friends T.R. Richmond presents a ‘whodunnit’ with a twist, a coming-of-age tale of a complex young woman, brought back to life through a series of glimpses.

Part 21st century epistolary novel and part digital scrapbook, What She Left explores the nature of news, truth, our social footprint and online identity, as well as such timeless issues as love, loss, revenge and redemption.

 I asked the author about their favourite books that are written in the form of letters. 

If you look on Wikipedia, an epistolary novel is defined as one “written as a series of documents”.
Years ago, this typically meant a tale told through letters and diaries. More recently, as communication forms have become more diverse, so the scope of this type of novel has mushroomed.
With What She Left, I set out to write a novel drawing on those traditional forms, but also using contemporary ones such as blog posts and tweets.
Epistolary books have a long, proud tradition – here are five that have made a particularly strong impact on readers.

Carrie by Stephen King
Thank heavens the author didn’t bin the early draft of this, as he was tempted. His wife fished it out of the bin so we’ve got her to thank for the succession of bestsellers the American author has produced since then. He reckons the book, which became his first published novel when it hit the shelves in 1974, only took about two weeks to draft. As it celebrates its 40 anniversary, the story of Carrie White and her telekinetic powers retains its ability to shock – such themes as bullying and revenge weaved into cuttings from newspapers, magazine pieces and book extracts.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend
A poignant and hilarious portrayal of the angst and awe of the male teenage years. Sue Townsend’s eponymous hero first appeared in 1982, with a slew of subsequent books following the hapless character through his troubled life. The first installment, with its deliciously evocative title, remains Townsend’s towering achievement, offering an insight into the adolescent Adrian Albert Mole and his love interest Pandora Braithwaite.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Letters, diary entries, telegrams, ship's logs, and snippets from papers all appear in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel about the evil vampire Count Dracula. The various perspectives and narrative style, partly engendered by the Irish author’s time as a newspaper writer, contribute to the story's believability – it feels like it’s recounting actual events via “found footage”. For many, Count Dracula will always be associated with Christopher Lee who played the part a series of films, but the book remains a classic and a must-read for horror fans.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, published in 1982, introduces us to Celie, a southern American black woman whose tale is told mainly through letters – some addressed to God. It’s a disturbing read, taking us back to an impoverished 1930s Georgia, with its endemic sexism and racism. It was turned into a Steven Spielberg-directed film in 1985 and also became a Broadway musical. Walker has become an iconic figure and her most famous book remains as important as ever.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
What began as a fictional diary column in a national newspaper in 1995 soon became a book, which spawned two sequels and a couple of films starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Consumed by her quest for love (and preoccupied by her alcohol intake and smoking habit), Bridget was originally intended to resonate with young, professional urban women but soon picked up a much wider fan base. The author has described her as a “banana skin girl”, but her observations about “singletons” and “smug marrieds” struck a chord with a whole generation.

Thank you to T R Richmond for visiting my blog today, I too loved The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 and also Bridget Jones's Diary, but I think I would have to add 64 Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff to my list, which is a series of letters between Helene, who lives in New York,  and an antiquarian bookshop specialising in rare and antique books in Charring Cross Road, London.

What She Left by T R Richmond is released on Thursday 23 April by Michael Joseph

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