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Archive for the tag “Being Someone”

Guest Post by Adrian Harvey

I am thrilled to welcome Adrian Harvey back to my blog.  I loved his first book, ‘Being Someone’ and am really looking forward to reading ‘The Cursing Stone’ which was published last year.  Adrian has written a guest post for this event.

 

Writing myself

It was my own fault. I had decided to write my first novel in the first person, so I should not have been surprised when family and friends started to ask pointed questions. You see, the protagonist of Being Someone was not written sympathetically: he is not someone men should aspire to be. And yet, when my brother described the book as ‘brave’, I didn’t quite get his point.

Things started to dawn on me when a friend’s friend apparently told her that she wasn’t sure that she would like me as a person if she were to meet me. When my mother said that she was disappointed in me, I began a short but intense period of denial. James is not me, I would tell anyone who paused long enough to hear it.

Fiction is not autobiography, of course, and even when authors write about what they know, their novels are not transcriptions of their lives. And yet some readers wanted only to uncover the ‘me’ that they assumed was woven into the text.

There is plenty of ‘me’ in Being Someone, of course, but that ‘me’ is not contained in a single character, but spread across everyone that appears within the book, not just the narrator/protagonist. My second novel, The Cursing Stone, is written in the third person, but there is still plenty of ‘me’ in that too, again contained within a set of diverse characters who are nothing like me, except in the very important regard that they are human. How could it be otherwise? The only perspective I have is my own; the only loves, fears, and doubts I have ever felt are mine. Other people can only ever be seen through that lens.

Because making characters means drawing on yourself but also on what you observe in others: the raw material, especially for the fine grain, the patina, is everyone you’ve ever met. When you’re writing a novel about human relationships (aren’t they all?) and you’re perpetually hungry for ever more granularity, every conversation – those you participate in, those you overhear – is legitimate source material. Every haircut, every nose, every pair of shoes or nervous laugh is fair game. A writer observes, for sure; but more than that, a writer listens. If you can’t hear it authentically as you write it – the words and the cadence – then nor will the reader when they read it.

This I knew. Then I started to notice that I was actively mining conversations, exchanges, and interactions for material. Not just observing, noting, what was going on, but mentally writing it into my novel as the exchange was happening. And if the conversation didn’t fully meet the needs of the character or plot, I found myself steering it in ways that would. I stopped doing that, of course, for my own sake as much as my friends: it felt like stealing, but moreover I was disturbed by the idea of fictionalising my life, of turning my relationships into the components of a novel.

Sometimes even observing feels like stealing. But mostly I know it is simply the only way to draw a believable character who will carry the attention of a reader, and behave with sufficient authenticity to make solid the make-believe of my narrative. So while I was not brought up on a remote Scottish island, I was once 20 years old (although not for a very long time) and there is enough of me – and of you – in Fergus Buchanan to make his quest for the cursing stone worth following.

 

Links

‘The Cursing Stone’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-cursing-stone/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cursing-Stone-Adrian-Harvey/dp/191112918X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489317079&sr=1-1

‘Being Someone’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/being-someone/

Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Someone-Adrian-Harvey/dp/1909273090/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451575323&sr=1-1&keywords=being+someone

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‘Being Someone’ by Adrian Harvey

Being Someone

‘Being Someone’ is Adrian Harvey’s debut novel.  It was published by Urbane Publications in 2014.  I was sent a copy to review a while back.

James has gone through life, taking each and every day as it comes, whilst all the time waiting for that special something to turn up.  Amongst other things he loves travelling to India.  His ongoing journey seems to be lacking one vital element though, a fellow traveller.

Then he meets the lovely Lainey.  She is everything James wants and more and he is determined to win her heart.  Lainey gives James a reason to grow and he sees a bright future with her.  She promises him the happy ending he has been looking for.  But will things work out the way he imagines them to?

I really enjoyed reading ‘Being Someone’ and I felt I got a lot out of it.  I’m not sure if this is a book I would have bought had I seen it in a bookshop, but I’m so glad now that I gave it a go and I do truly recommend it.  The story itself starts off in Mysore and it took me a while to figure out what the relevance was, but all soon became clear.

‘Being Someone’ is a beautifully told story about life, love and loss.  I personally find it hard to believe that this is actually a debut novel, so advanced is the writing.  The descriptions of India were wonderful and so very vivid that at one point I felt as I was actually there with James.  I also like how the author has written about Jagganath who James met in India.  James was going through a hard time and Jagganath showed him hospitality, something that Indians are very well known for.

I don’t necessarily condone what James did, but I think it shows that things had changed and couldn’t be rescued.  Life is an ongoing journey that we are all travelling.  Good and bad, happy and sad, we all have to carry on.

I am looking forward to reading Adrian Harvey’s new novel which is out next year.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘Being Someone’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/being-someone/

Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Someone-Adrian-Harvey/dp/1909273090/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451575323&sr=1-1&keywords=being+someone

 

Adrian Harvey – Guest Blog Post

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Earlier this year Adrian Harvey’s debut novel ‘Being Someone’ was published by Urbane Publications.  Below is a lovely blog post by Adrian in which he explains where he got his inspiration from when writing this book.

I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

Things are seldom as they seem

Inspiration comes from many places and in all shapes and sizes. In my case, it came from India, in the hefty form of an elephant. That elephant was long dead, and I never had the chance to meet him. It also turned out that he wasn’t even real. But his story was the starting point of my novel, Being Someone. Quite literally, in the sense that a version of it became the first chapter, but the elephant was also the inspiration for everything that followed. The elephant, who I called Iravatha, was both the starting point and the frame for the novel, and he keeps poking his very long nose into the story.

In the book, the story of Iravatha is told to the narrator in a little park in the middle of Mysore and, to all intents and purposes, it is the same story that was told to me a little park in the middle of Mysore, some seven years ago. Essentially, it is an Indian version of the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby. If you don’t know the story, it’s the ‘true’ story of a little dog – Bobby no less – who keeps returning to the grave of his dead master in an Edinburgh church yard. There’s a Disney movie, made in the sixties, about the tale. It’s very touching.

When I got back to London I checked and there was no Iravatha. The boy I had met in Mysore had been telling stories, conflating bits and pieces of truth to create an impression, an effect. And it worked; I liked it. But what attracted me most to it was the ambiguity in its apparent simplicity and honesty.

You see, there is an account of Greyfriar’s Bobby that suggests that, rather than a heart warming account of loyalty and enduring love, it was simply a wheeze dreamed up to attract tourists to Edinburgh and in fact – a little like Lassie – a number of different dogs played the role over the years. Other versions suggest that ‘Bobby’ was just one of a number of stray dogs that hung around the cemeteries of the city, waiting for the highly emotional human visitors, who would feed them.

Now, the relationship between a mahout and his elephant is deep, often lifelong. But it is also complex and problematic. Mahouts are seldom entirely kind to the animals they train and tend and, as we know, elephants have very long memories within which to hold their grudges. I started to play with the layers of truth that might be bound up with my elephant story and, for some reason, this ambiguity made me think about a marriage.

So Being Someone became a love story: a man – let’s call him James – and a woman – let’s call her Lainey – fall in love; they get married, and then things happen, as things so often insist on doing.

 

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Since escaping the East Midlands to find his fortune in the big city, Adrian Harvey has combined a career in and around government with trying to see as much of the world as he can. He lives in North London, which he believes to be the finest corner of the world’s greatest city. Being Someone is his first novel.

 

‘Being Someone’ is available to buy on Amazon – http://georiot.co/3syu

You can also buy it from http://urbanepublications.com

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