Sunday, 26 May 2013

Shouty Dad starts a new chapter

Don't ask me to look after your avocado
I was never too keen on Friends Reunited. Of course, it's always lovely when people first get in touch; the first email or two can be quite exciting. But once you're past the catch-up phase and have relived a few great memories in old stomping grounds, you usually realise why you lost touch in the first place - you simply don't have anything in common any more and you have to let the friendship die all over again...

But then along came Twitter, a much better way to look up auld acquaintance and see if a connection can be dusted down and made good again. And that's how Shouty Dad and I rekindled our friendship. Once upon a time were both reading English at Sussex Uni in the UK. We moved in different circles and didn't see each other all that much, but we did get on well and I'm not sure why we eventually lost touch. It might have been because he got married or perhaps it was because I killed his avocado plant while he went traveling. Either way, our paths diverged for a decade or two.

By the time we bumped into each other again on Twitter, I'd moved to Australia. But I was delighted to run into him online and greatly enjoy reading his dry, witty blog about family life:

When Burned was picked up by Random House, I thought about asking Shouty if he'd like to read it. Of course, I valued his opinion, he's no mean writer himself, but I knew things could be a little awkward if he didn't like it. As it happens I needn't have worried. Here's his review:

'An act of revolting violence done to a homeless man lies at the heart of this stunning debut novel. 
As the impact of the attack ripples out - the apparent pointlessness of the brutality making it seem all the more plausible - Persephone Nicholas picks apart with forensic skill the lives of those affected. 
In a gripping story that switches seamlessly between characters, countries and the passing of time, she focuses on Noah Daniels, a young lad who witnesses the attack.

As he falls under police suspicion, Noah’s innocent and gentle life begins to fall apart - and in one of the book’s many subtle echoes, he too becomes violent, lashing out against those closest to him.

Burned is thoroughly absorbing, its writing mature and assured, especially so for a first novel. There's not a misplaced or superfluous word throughout, and Nicholas keeps the story bowling along with short chapters and frequent changes of location between Sydney and England.

Her characters are totally believable - especially slimy Rich, Noah's feckless dad - and she gets inside the head of young people and adults alike with convincing accuracy.

Long after you’ve finished the last page, the personalities and places stay in your mind. You won’t visit Salisbury again without being reminded of the nasty underbelly present even in England’s prettiest city. Nor will you pass a homeless man without thinking that he, too, once had a different life.

This powerful book by a new writer with a glittering future deserves to be read.'
Burned will be out on Amazon kindle on May 29 and in print from August. I'd love to hear what you think of it.


  1. I'd forgotten about the avocado plant. How's your conscience? Do you sleep well at night, hmm, well do you?