Saturday, 23 August 2014


Although it was very exciting, it was also very strange to listen to A Song for Issy Bradley on BBC Radio 4. When I found out that the novel had been selected for Book at Bedtime I was delighted and curious about how it would be condensed. It must be tremendously difficult to abridge 105,000 words into 10, fifteen minute segments, and I'm very glad I didn't have to do it because a) it would have taken me ages and b) it would have driven me slightly batty.

There were lots of lovely things about the production. Emma Fielding has a beautiful voice and I loved the music, particularly the guitar melodies that separated segments. (I especially liked these during the second week, when they were slightly more cheerful, and reminded me of The Princess Bride).

[*Spoiler alert for this paragraph*]
Listening to such a small snapshot of the novel was almost like listening to a synopsis, but the story didn't open in the same place as it does in the novel, and things happened in a different order at the end. Claire's journey to the beach wasn't included (she was just suddenly there) and the dangers of the environment (the fact that she'd been cut off by the tide) passed without mention. This made the ending a little mystifying: Claire went out for a walk, the children and Ian followed, they called to her and she turned around, The End. I'm not sure that the final scene works without an element of peril; the drama comes from Claire's hesitation as she makes the choice to either stay in this world or allow the racing tide to drag her into the next. 
[*Spoiler alert for this paragraph*]

Embedded image permalinkLast week I also received three copies of the audio book (unabridged). One of the children pinched a copy, along with the only CD player in the house, and disappeared up to his room. I followed, and we listened to the first CD together. Then we took the box out to the car and listened to the rest of the book as we drove to holiday clubs and the supermarket.

Emma Gregory reads beautifully and she does fantastic accents. Again, it was both strange and exciting to listen to someone else's version of the novel. One of the peripheral characters had an Irish accent (which wasn't at all problematic, just unexpected) and there were times when expression and interpretation led to some scenes being softer and others more challenging than I'd intended, which makes me wonder about voice and dialogue in my new novel - are there already different ways of reading the (admittedly rough) first few chapters? I expect so. And is it possible for me to be more aware of this than I was when writing A Song for Issy Bradley? Perhaps, although I'm not really sure.

Talking of interpretations and adaptations, this week I wrote a blog post for My Book, The Movie. As suggested by the title, the blog is one in which writers discuss imaginary film adaptations of their novels. You can read about mine here

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Book at Bedtime

It's really going to happen! A Song for Issy Bradley will be BBC Radio Four's Book at bedtime, beginning on Monday 11th August, for 2 weeks. 

I'm excited to hear it and find out how it has been abridged. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Sunstone Symposium

My bags are packed and I'm ready to fly home. I've had a lovely time in Utah. I met some really interesting people and listened to some excellent papers and panels at the Sunstone Symposium - the history of excommunication, perspectives on patriarchy and the Ordain Women movement, Mormon food, the problems of heterodoxy - all sorts of fantastic stuff, and I even appeared (very briefly) during this Fox News report.

Here's Jenn and I doing the work part of the trip - presenting 'British LDS Fiction: Conflicts and Contexts.'

And here we are having fun with our friend Holly Welker.

Here's the Joseph Smith sphinx at the Gilgal Sculpture Garden, a really strange and oddly beautiful place.

Now it's back to England and back to writing. I can't wait. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Back Soon

I'm off to America tomorrow, sans family, to speak about A Song for Issy Bradley and Mormon fiction at the Sunstone symposium at the University of Utah with my friend Jenn Ashworth. So long!


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Win a copy of the U.S edition

More U.S editions of A Song for Issy Bradley arrived yesterday. I'm giving away one copy - I'll sign it and mail it anywhere in the world. All you need to do to is comment on this post or on the equivalent post on my Facebook page and one name will be drawn out of a hat at the weekend. 

I loved A Song for Issy Bradley. It's wry, smart, human ... it's moving and comforting in a way that makes sense even to the agnostic.
Nick Hornby, The Believer

*The draw has taken place. The winner is Stephanie Ramquist.*

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Verb, RTE and new books

Yesterday I went to Media City to record  The Verb with Ian McMillan. Jackie Kay and DBC Pierre were also on the show, but they were in Inverness and London respectively (so they couldn't sign the books I'd fangirlishly - not sure if that's a word - carried to Manchester with me). However, brilliant folk singer Martin Carthy was in the studio and it was lovely to listen to him perform live. The program can be downloaded here.

Afterwards I went to Liverpool where I bought some of my favourite chocolate in the world. Then I popped to Radio Merseyside where I did a live interview on RTE

Here's a link to the podcast.

When I got home I discovered a parcel containing 2 copies of the U.S edition of the novel. I think they're gorgeous. 

Here's a photo of my fish reacting to the cover (could be that he's just swimming around obliviously, of course). 

Embedded image permalink

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Miracle Boy

Here's a video from Word Factory of me reading the first part of Jacob's chapter 'Miracle Boy' from A Song for Issy Bradley.

Carys Bray reads 'Miracle Boy' from WordFactory on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Book at Bedtime

Some lovely news.

A Song for Issy Bradley will be BBC Radio Four's Book at Bedtime for two weeks, beginning 11th August. 

^ That was me being calm and dignified.

For a more authentic depiction of my response, imagine a combination of the following:


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

And breathe

Last weekend I dragged the children and my husband to London and bored the socks off them with a long game of spot-the-tube-poster, followed by a visit to the Tate (the Tate was slightly better received - in part due to the large numbers of naked statues and paintings).

On Saturday evening I read at Word Factory which took place in Piccadilly Waterstones - a gorgeous shop - alongside two fantastic writers, Vanessa Gebbie and Val McDermid (who also sang, beautifully). Afterwards I went out for a meal with two school friends I hadn't seen for almost two decades, a lovely experience.

On Tuesday I attended Short Stories Aloud in Oxford and listened to work by myself and Kerry Hudson, performed by Julie Mayhew and Melissa Berry. Julie did the most incredible job of reading my story My Brother is Missing - she read it so well that it felt like it had been written by someone else.

On Thursday I attended the Edge Hill Prize award ceremony. The main prize was won by John Burnside whose collection Something Like Happy was outstanding. The readers' prize was won by Rachel Trezise with her confident, cosmopolitan collection, Cosmic Latte. I really enjoyed being a judge on the prize this year. All five of the shortlisted collections were excellent. I'll always remember Bernie McGill's beautiful title story 'Sleepwalkers' and the concluding story of Jaki McCarrick's dark and evocative collection The Scattering - 'The Jailbird', a gripping and horrifyingly funny depiction of a co-dependent mother and son. And I was fascinated by David Rose's wry, slightly off-kilter worlds in Posthumous Stories. It was a diverse and deserving shortlist.

After the Edge Hill Prize ceremony I hurried away to Literary Death Match at Foyles.

John Boyne won the death match with a very funny story about football (and Nick Harkaway, Anthony Anaxagorou and I all survived, which was good). 

On Saturday I read and signed copies of A Song for Issy Bradley at Formby Books

Yesterday I read and signed books at Chorley Library with Ebb & Flo Books

And that's it. I've finished my novel-related commitments until the autumn. Phew! 

Now I just need to make the corrections to my PhD poetics, start working with my WoMentoring mentees and prepare my presentation for the Sunstone Symposium in Utah on 1st August. Oh, and there's the small matter of a second novel, too...