On the last Thursday of every month I meet up with a bunch of friends in Café Bar 1912, our favourite local bar. We catch up on all of our news and talk about some of the books we've recently read. Yes, we're a book group. But there are no hard and fast rules. At the start of the year, we don't list what we want to read, we don't take turn about with suggestions, and because we're all so busy we don't always get round to finishing the book...
Why are there no nice guys?
"This was never intentional. I'm very happily married with two sons, and I have no agenda. With the character, Dan, there's a lot of ambiguity. I left his background deliberately vague to let the reader make up their own mind."
Why did you choose to write the character's dialogue in dialect?
"I felt the book would lose its heartbeat if I removed the dialect from the dialogue."
Helen is clearly passionate about staying true to your voice. She went on to tell us about her next exciting venture as the writer-in-residence at Levenmouth Academy, where she has been brought on board to work with students on a piece of their own writing. A venture, we all agreed, she will do brilliantly in. Her passion for education shone through as she spoke about previous workshops she'd been involved in.
Helen entertained us with her many amusing, and often moving, anecdotes about growing up in Falkirk. If you've read Talk of the Toun, you're sure to remember the scene where Angela's dad fits a cut-off strip of carpet into her 'new' car. It's a brilliantly written scene, and so it's no real surprise to hear that it's based on real life. And that's where Helen's magic lies. She writes with a voice the reader can immediately relate to. Her stories are honest, and her style of writing is witty and but often brutally true to life.
I'd personally like to thank Helen for taking time out of her very busy life to come along and chat to our group about books and the process of writing. It was a fabulous evening, and for once we can actually say we discussed the book.
And the book we have chosen for this month?
...Talk of the Toun.
Emma Mooney is a writer of Scottish contemporary fiction and is the author of A Beautiful Game. and Wings to Fly.