I’m very excited to be able to help kick off the blog tour for ‘A Long Shadow’ by Caroline Kington.
Read my review of this book here; set across multiple times but mainly in the early 2000’s with the backdrop of the British Farming Crisis. This book is another brilliant release from Lightening books, focusing on the aftermath of a potential murder/suicide and how the family learn to pick themselves back up again.
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to have a Q&A with the author! At the end of the Q&A are links for where to buy the book from and a code for 50% off if you buy from the publisher as well as a giveaway (UK only).
Thank you for letting me be a part of your blog tour for ‘A Long Shadow’.
Thank you for your questions
I really enjoyed the way the various stories and timelines intertwined and I thought the backdrop of the farming crisis was a really interesting one, and not something I know much about.
What made you decide that the farming crisis of 2000 was the right setting for your story?
It was a direct consequence of having made a short documentary film for C4 news about the increase in the number of women in farming. The farming community was just recovering from an awful decade of disease, a consequence of which many farms went to the wall and the incidence of suicide shot up. As a result, more women took up farming and the nature of farming changed, with increased diversification – farm shops, locally made ice cream, specialty cheeses, etc. But by and large, I thought the rest of the country, townsfolk and politicians alike, seemed largely impervious to the tragedies and triumphs of the farming community. It was, I felt, a rich setting.
Was Dan a farmer first or did you turn him into a farmer because you wanted to use that setting?
Dan was a farmer.
How much research into farming did you do while writing the book?
Quite a lot – much more than I really needed for the book, but I had to be sure I was not talking/writing rubbish. I went up to the attic to check on the reference books I had also used and was stunned to find so many. I am also fortunate in that, where I live, I am surrounded by farmland and the local farm is just down the road.
You’ve got 3 different timelines going on throughout this story. Did you write them separately or together?
This is an interesting question. A mixture of both. Susan’s story first started as a stand-alone up to the birth of Frank, but Dan and Kate were so interlinked, one setting off the other, that any attempt to write more than one chapter before I switched, fell flat. Then I broke down Susan’s story and added the Frank episodes and interwove them and felt it worked much better.
Susan’s story starts at a ‘mother and baby’ home in the 1940’s which is a dark part of our recent history that isn’t often talked about. What made you want to tell this story?
Again it was the result of working on an idea for a documentary – I went to the Bristol archives to find out about the role of the notorious Shepton Mallet prison in the Second World War and came across the account of the mother and baby home, which was also the dumping ground for elderly, uncared for people. It was so nasty, so sad, but one I couldn’t use in a TV programme. When I created the character of Susan, she was born directly out of that research.
You’ve got some really interesting relationships in this story; Dan doesn’t want to tell his wife that the farm is struggling, Kate’s parents don’t appear to talk to each other or even get along, whilst Kate’s sister whether consciously or unconsciously does everything she can to take the limelight and in doing so is leeching off her sister.
You are right. There is a lack of communication between the characters. But this is more, I think, to do with the nature of the people involved – quite British not to say what you think, not to upset peoples’ feelings or the status quo. And it is from this that the drama arises. Dan does want to tell Kate how awful everything is, but other things, whether it’s chicken pox or Mary vanishing, means he puts things on hold. Kate’s parents tolerate each other, I think. It’s not that they don’t get along, it is that the effort has gone out of the marriage and while they remain fond of each other, that probably is as far as it goes. Emily is the mirror of her mother and as you say, does everything she can do to be the centre of attention. Her husband Ivan’s description of her is spot on.
Was there any relationship you found difficult to write or really easy?
The relationship between the central characters seemed to flow easily, particularly Kate and Dan’s. More difficult was the more minor characters – the farm employees in particular I worked at to make sure they had clear identities and actually was in danger of over-writing so I had to cut back. The relationship between Kate and William and Max also required delicate handling.
I really enjoyed the way that the focus of the story wasn’t on what happened to Dan and being a murder mystery, it was based on the effect on the family and not the cause, what made you want to invert the traditional genre?
That’s a good question! I feel the central theme of the book is that things are not what they seem and in a multi-layered way, that is what drives the novel and the various stories that come together. I also wanted to write a book that puts the reader in charge. And in the end, it is only the reader who is in full possession of all the facts that make up this story.
What is the first book you remember loving as a child?
Enid Blyton ‘The Rilloby Fair Mystery’. It was the first book I read without pictures and I was so proud of myself…
What are you currently reading?’
‘The Minituarist’ by Jessie Burton and ‘Around The World in 80 Trains’ by Monisha Rajesh
Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 50% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOURSHAD
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
As always let me know what you think of the post and if you’re interested in the book. This definitely wouldn’t have been one I’d have picked up in the bookshop and I would have missed something special.