Copyright Legend Press
Many thanks to Oapschat for inviting me to talk about my latest novel ‘Bright Stars’.
My first two novels – ‘The Generation Game’ and ‘This Holey Life’ – were about family relationships and though I continue to be fascinated by the dynamics and eccentricities of family life, ‘Bright Stars’ has more of a focus on friendship, in particular those friendships you make as students, when you are thrown together from different parts of the globe, with all those hormones and adventures, and the excitement of being away from home, on the verge of adulthood but not yet grown up.
The enormous success of social networks such as Friends Reunited and Facebook shows the appetite for getting in touch with friends from our past. Is it a good idea to go back or should we leave our ghosts alone?
I wanted to explore the tension between the past and the present. This desire to keep looking over your shoulder when you know you should be facing forward. Like picking a scab, you know your wounds will not heal and yet you just can’t help yourself.
What would happen if four university friends were reunited after 25 years, having not seen each other since the tragic accident that blew their friendship apart back in the day?
‘Bright Stars’ is set in the 80s at Lancaster University (where I was an English undergrad from 1986-89 – and there the similarities end!). When I wrote the first draft over a period of eighteen months, I used four points of view – two female, two male – and wrote them in the third person. But something wasn’t working. I had the story and the characters but the emotions were diluted; I wasn’t siding with any of characters. A good friend asked me: whose story is it? I realised it was Cameron’s story, the man from Edinburgh.
And so I rewrote the novel using Cameron’s voice in the first person. I wouldn’t have set out to write so closely from a male’s perspective, but Cameron is a gentle soul, not macho, a little geeky. It didn’t feel like too much of a ventriloquist’s act
But it did mean anther eighteen months of rewriting. It also meant trips to Edinburgh, reading Scottish literature, and watching Scottish films and television. (Obviously I had to watch ‘Outlander’ again and again as I felt I needed to immerse myself completely in Scotland. Oh the trials of being a writer. Jamie Fraser. Sigh.)
‘Bright Stars’ has a dual narrative so as well as the 80s story line, there is a contemporary thread. Cameron is now in his forties, separated from his wife, on the verge of losing his job as a ghost tour guide in the Old Town of Edinburgh, and living back at home with this ageing, courting father. The invitation from one of the other students, Christie, a Canadian wine maker, comes at a time when Cameron is vulnerable.
He tries to resist but can’t ignore that desire to go back
So he makes the trip to London, to the Ritz. And here he meets up again with Christie, Tommo, and Bex, the woman who always had his heart. Over the course of a weekend, the four of them must face the past and answer these questions: What actually happened that fateful night? Who was responsible?
Is it ever too late to stop the repercussions of bad decisions made when young?
As my oldest has just left home to go to London University, this novel has been published at a poignant time for me and my family. He came to the book launch last Wednesday, having made it through Freshers’ Week and his first three days of lectures. It was great to see a smile on his face and I hope and pray he will be a bright star.
But most of all I hope and pray he will be happy.
Here is a synopsis and some lovely reviews
Cameron Spark's life is falling apart. He is separated from his wife, and awaiting a disciplinary following an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh where he works as a Ghost Tour guide. On the day he moves back home to live with his widowed dad, he receives a letter from Canada. It is from Christie.
Twenty-five years earlier, Cameron attends Lancaster University and despite his crippling shyness, makes three unlikely friends: Christie, the rich Canadian, Tommo, the wannabe rock star and Bex, the Feminist activist who has his heart. In a whirlwind of alcohol, music and late night fox raids, Cameron feels as though he’s finally living.
Until a horrific accident shatters their friendship and alters their futures forever.
Christie’s letter offers them a reunion after all these years. But has enough time passed to recover from the lies, the guilt and the mistakes made on that tragic night? Or is this one ghost too many for Cameron?
'Intriguing tale about friends reuniting and secrets coming to light'. Heat! magazine
“Bright Stars is beautifully written, has original, endearing characters and a story that pulls you along. I loved it.” Katie Fforde
“Wonderful - bounces along with drama and verve.” Kate Long
“A wonderful and witty page turner, combined with compelling storytelling that stays with you.” Helen Lederer
“Both hilariously funny and desperately sad as well as having four super attractive main characters and a highly original plot, Bright Stars is a novel that just has to be read.” Maureen Lee
'Beautifully written'. Mature Times
Editor: Sophie is very kindly donating a signed copy of Bright Stars for a future prize draw. Details will appear on the website soon. Many thanks Sophie! You can buy a copy or download the Kindle version of Bright Stars from Amazon. Details can be found here.