Two acclaimed word of mouth bestsellers, Sarah Winman and Gail Honeyman, took to the stage of Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall to discuss the pressures that comes with this success, reading extracts from their most recently published. Sarah, a former actress, who had great success with When God Was a Rabbit several years back and Gail, who recently won the Costa Award for her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, addressed a packed out venue, who were highly engaged with the regaling and insight into writing.

Sarah Winman had two successful novels, When God Was a Rabbit and A Year of Marvellous Ways, but spent the evening discussing her new novel published by Tinder Press, albeit having began this one before When God Was a Rabbit. The Tin Man is a book that is so focussed on character that you become immersed into their relationships and interaction. As Sarah said on the evening without revealing any spoilers this book is about “everyday living and loving. Michael has an inner life which is everything whereas Ellis doesn’t. Annie which links the two, doesn’t have a story, well it is certainly not revealed, although she is the most important character.” The book explores sexual identity whilst also the cathartic power of art, and values character as Winman herself puts a great deal into getting that absolutely right.

Another novelist that invests her time into character development is Glasgow-raised writer, Gail Honeyman, who emphasises that her book is about, “realistic characters living realistic lives, it’s entirely character driven.” Reading a brief section of the novel was enough to draw me in and get a sense of Eleanor, enough to persuade me to buy a copy. The book centres on the loneliness of central character, Eleanor, and her lack of social engagement. It’s a character we all know well, whether an aspect of ourselves or one we witness in those around us, and the relativity has opened doors for this debut. That and the writing of course.

What appears obvious is their different stages in career, with Winman discussing her third and Honeyman embracing the success of her debut. With more experience under her belt, chair Zoe Venditozzi asked Sarah about the pressures of that debut success, and she positively responds with, ” well, it gives you the freedom to write another book” which I sincerely hope they both do. Their investment in character development has captured my interest and their eloquent way of addressing the audience, answering questions, could only intrigue the audience when it comes to their writing.

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