A Quickie with Cassandra Parkin

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

My upcoming novel “The Winter’s Child” (Legend Press, October 2017) begins at a fairground, on the last night of Hull Fair (the last night also happens to be my publication date, so the story literally starts on the day it’s published). In a fortune-teller’s caravan, my heroine Susannah Harker is given an unusually specific prophecy: her son Joel, who has been missing for five years, will come back to her by Christmas Eve. It’s inspired by two things I love very much – Christmas Eve ghost stories, and my home city of Hull. If you’d like a taste of the UK’s City of Culture, “The Winter’s Child” might be a good place to start.

If someone was to write your life story, what would the title be?

“Starts Slowly, Gets More Interesting, More Cats Than Strictly Necessary”

What’s the strangest fan request you’ve ever received?

It’s a close call between the person who wanted me to write their novel for them (obviously we’d split the royalties equally between us, which was…thoughtful…), and the person who wanted an incest-based fanfic about Ava and Finn from my second novel The Beach Hut. I think quite a lot of authors get the first request on a fairly regular basis. I’d love to know if the second one’s equally common.

 If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

It would have to be Tove Jansson, who wrote the Moomin series. I love the contrast between the beauty and charm of her stories, and the darkness that’s just below the surface. Moominvalley is a wonderful haven, but the Groke is terrifying and the Hattifatteners are sinister and Moominpappa insists on taking his whole family to live in a lighthouse on a lonely island so he can battle his growing sense of despair and Moominmamma becomes so lonely she paints a garden on the wall and disappears into it. Also, Tove Jansson could draw, so our joint book would also be illustrated. I’ll happily admit I’d be the lightweight in this partnership.

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!)

Last Christmas I wrote a book for my brother, under a ridiculous and easily-identifiable pseudonym. It’s a recipe book for an impossible dish that takes years to make and requires large amounts of black magic, political activism and murder to accomplish. I honestly can’t begin to describe how stupid this book is, or how much fun I had writing it, or how much we both enjoyed the looks on everyone’s faces when he unwrapped it. He and I are probably the only people in the world who will ever actually find it funny.

Anyway, my original vision was that there was going to be one copy in the whole world ever and he would own it. However, on Boxing Day, he challenged me to get more copies printed and start hiding them in bookshops at author events. I’ve recently hidden the first copy of the book. It has a note inside with further instructions so we’ll see what happens next.

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech. A gorgeous, raw and haunting story about memory and the ways we deal with dreadful experiences. Absolutely brutal and absolutely beautiful.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin. When Max, a teenage boy with an intersex condition, is brutally assaulted, the aftermath forces his entire family to reassess how they’re living their lives. Max is simply one of the nicest, most lovable teenagers I’ve ever encountered in fiction and his story had me in tears.

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. A truly chilling account of the lives of the girls who painted Radium on dials for a living and endured the most horrific industrial injuries. Their struggle for justice changed the way industry uses radioactive materials for ever.

Who is Cassandra Parkin?

Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.
The Summer We All Ran Away (Legend Press, 2013) was Cassandra’s debut novel and nominated for the Amazon Rising Stars 2014.

The Beach Hut (Legend Press, 2015) is her second novel.   Visit Cassandra at cassandraparkin.wordpress.com or on Twitter @cassandrajaneuk

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