Blog tour: Close To The Edge by Toby Faber

Welcome to the blog tour for CLOSE TO THE EDGE by Toby Faber, which is out now with Muswell Press and ready to take you on an exhilarating journey.

I was very lucky to be able to read this novel ahead of publication - thanks to its online serialisation on The Pigeonhole - and my enthusiastic comments were picked on by the publisher, which is how I happen to be here today!

If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller and the chance to put your intuition to the test, Close To The Edge is the book for you. Plus, with locations coming alive on the page, it will make you feel like you’re in the middle of the action. 

Enough about what I thought. I have a special treat for you today: here’s my Q&A with Toby Faber himself!

Hi Toby! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of Close To The Edge! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Thank you. Laurie is a young woman who is clearly clever but has ended up stuck in a dead-end job, essentially because she came off the rails a bit when her mother died suddenly about ten years ago. One day, she is commuting into work when she sees someone fall in front of a tube train beside her. Partly because of her experience with her mother, she can’t forget it, and a few days later she realises he was holding something when he fell. She decides to investigate.

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?

A: I certainly didn’t have the plot figured out. I kept having to go back and re-write things to make plot turns credible. I feel like I know Laurie and her character (and those of her dad and cousin Jess) much better now than I did when I started the book.

What kind of research, if any, did you have to carry out while you were writing this novel? In general, is research something you enjoy or a means to an end?

A: I spent some time exploring the public bits of Euston underground station to make sure I got that right. I also did quite a lot of internet research to find out what happens on the tube network after hours. I do quite enjoy research (I’ve written non-fiction books in the past) so I had to watch myself to make sure I didn’t load it into the book. I allowed myself one scene where Laurie replicates some of the research I did and also quite enjoys it. In that respect, at least, she’s a bit like me.

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the role of Laurie?

A: A good question which is hard to answer. Although it is in the third person, the whole book is written from Laurie’s point of view. So she is never described because she would never describe herself. To my mind she has something of the character played by Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky. That’s over ten years old now, so I suppose I’d have to say a younger Sally Hawkins.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: There’s a brief scene towards the end of the book where they meet Dad’s neighbour in Somerset. It’s a chance for the reader to catch their breath with a bit of light relief, but also, possibly, for the reader to start to understand some things that aren’t yet clear to Laurie. Anyway, I found it quite easy and enjoyable to write.

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: I have a file called ‘offcuts’ that is nearly 18,000 words long. It includes those two other endings and a whole sub-plot where Laurie had a feud with someone at work that seemed unnecessary in the final version.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: I’ve just started thinking about a possible sequel about Laurie, her dad and Jess. I think at some point she will end up going back to Cambridge and finding out more about what happened to her mother.

What are you reading at the moment?

A: When Darkness Calls by Mark Griffin is an excellent fast-paced debut thriller about a psychological profiler; Outside of a Dog by Rick Gekoski is a lovely memoir of a bibliophile; Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan won this year’s TS Eliot prize and is something to read when I want to force myself to read slowly. I have Moby Dick on my Kindle and go through phases of reading it. In that sense it’s clearly not ‘unputdownable’ but the characterisations and sense of place are so strong that you can come back to it months later and still remember exactly what’s going on.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: I’d love to be so much in demand! At the moment, I welcome that sort of attention. Twitter and co certainly do disrupt my writing but only because I let them. They are a good excuse not to write. I’m sure if social media didn’t exist I’d find something else to distract me.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Make sure you understand your characters -  their backstories and motivations – before you start writing. I wish I had.

Thank you for your time!

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