Novel Writers: Zoe Gilbert
Each month we invite a debut novelist to read from and talk about their work in an informal setting. Prior knowledge of the text is not essential. Topics of discussion include theme, structure, inspiration and the craft of writing. These sessions are a great way to discover new writing talent and great books. This month Zoe Gilbert, winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2014, discusses her debut novel Folk.
The men and women are already lighting torches, passing them along the line. All the villagers of Neverness are here. Every year they gather, while the girls shoot their arrows and the boys hunt them out. The air is riddled with spiteful shadows – the wounds and fears and furies of a village year.
On a remote and unforgiving island lies a village unlike any other: Neverness. In this world far from our time and place, the stories of the islanders interweave and overlap. Enchantment always lurks, blighting and blessing in equal measure: a girl is snatched by a water bull and dragged to his lair, a babe is born with a wing for an arm and children ask their fortunes of an oracle ox. Folk is a dark, magical and staggeringly beautiful debut circling the lives of one generation, their own dark folklore twisting fates and changing lives.
‘An utterly tantalising new voice. With Folk, Gilbert casts a powerful spell, creating a world on the page that feels as old as the hills and yet exquisitely alive. Folk is a place of elemental coastlines, dappled light and rich woodland shadow. Her characters step from those shadows, as compelling as characters from any much loved folktale … To read Folk is to find oneself rapt.’ – Alison MacLeod, author of All the Beloved Ghosts
Image credit Lucy Johnston