At Windmill we want you to get to know our authors as well as we do, which means meeting them when we do.
Our Introducing series brings the newest William Heinemann and Hutchinson authors onto the website, months before their books are due to be published.
Next year Hutchinson will publish A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray, the winner of Salt Publishing’s Scott Prize. A Song for Issy Bradley tells the story of a family of Lancashire Mormons whose measured existence is shattered by the death of the youngest daughter, Issy.
Here Carys talks about her career to-date and the experience of signing with Hutchinson.
I’ve spent huge chunks of my life with my nose in a book. In fact, if it were at all possible, I’d probably insert my whole self between the pages like Woody Allen’s character, Sidney Kugelmass. When I was younger I wanted to be a writer but at some point during a sleep-deprived, toddler-filled decade I forgot, or lost my nerve – I’m not quite sure, it’s all a bit of a fog. I finally started writing short stories in 2009 and my first collection won Salt Publishing’s Scott Prize. I wanted to write a novel next but I was nervous about making such a big commitment. I began with an image of a little boy digging up a dead bird and I planted it in a short story, telling myself that I could stop there if necessary. I didn’t stop. The story grew and it soon had a before and an after. Other voices crept in; a mother, a father and a couple of teenage siblings. Once I started saying, ‘a novel,’ in response to questions about what I was writing, I knew I was going to finish it.
I will always remember the telephone call from my agent. ‘Carys, you need to sit down,’ she said. I sat down and listened while my amplified heartbeat bumped the back of my throat. I reached for my mobile to text my husband, but my thumb was shaking and I couldn’t type the words. My children appeared and when they realised what was happening they ran around the house cheering. I’m absolutely delighted that my novel has been selected by a publisher with such an impressive list and I can’t wait for it to become a real book.
A Note from the Editor, Jocasta Hamilton:
I was totally floored by Carys’ novel – and not just once! Reading it for the second time, knowing everything that had happened, this novel made me weep. Devastatingly powerful and so sharply observed, this novel about doubt, faith and longed-for miracles makes your heart ache for every member of the Bradley family.