Emma Healey has had a roller coaster six months: her debut novel Elizabeth Is Missing, which sold for a six-figure advance, was published last summer to critical acclaim. And last week the twenty-nine year old writer won the Costa First Novel award and is now up against the likes of Ali Smith and Kate Saunders for the Costa Book of the Year Prize.
My favourite health and fitness app measures how many steps I've taken each day and how deeply (or- most often- not) I've slept each night. It calculates the balance of the calories I've consumed, and gives me a helpful nudge if I've had too much salt, sugar or saturated fat. It sets me targets, and gives me a virtual pat on the back if I meet or even exceed them.
Perhaps it was being put deep under by the anaesthesia, for I am told it really is a little like dying. Well the closest one comes to dying without actually... dying; when you are sedated enough for them to cut into you. Maybe it was that which dropped me deep into myself, enough to touch the stuff that really mattered. The debris hidden behind decades of conditioning shot to the top.
My writing straddles too many genres to be categorised. So I turned Indie. However, when my self-published, first novel made it to the Amazon bestseller list, I realised I had a niche: a group of readers around the world who liked what I wrote. They wanted to know what it meant to come of age in a complex environment like India.
Rhino Hunt is an honest look at the relationships held between modern middle aged men. Just as the success of the Inbetweeners movie is largely down to its realistic take on teenage life, Rhino Hunt exposes many truths of what it means to be a middle aged man, especially the ones blessed with that innate ability to act like a child, and get away with it.
Many people disregard the allure of the classic writers, seeing them as old, established, and jaded. Yet, in their day, these writers were the revolutionaries, cutting edge writing with cutting edge messages, and I challenge anyone looking at them anew to place themselves in the mindset of the reader of the time - even swap mental genders if you like - and see them as they were intended.