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Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Surprise behind The Sunrise

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Alison and Pat from Plackitt & Booth, Lytham, with Victoria Hislop (centre)
Photo courtesy of Headline

Renown author Victoria Hislop, who  has sold millions of books all over the world, admits she never wanted  to be a novelist. 'I didn't have a creative gene in my body,' she told a lively audience at Lowther Theatre, Lytham, this week.

Victoria was in Lancashire to celebrate the launch of her latest novel, The Sunrise, released on September 26 and already a best seller.

 Set in Famagusta, Cypress, in the early 1970s, the book follows two families whose lives are changed forever when the Turks stage a coup forcing the locals to flee for their lives.  Based on recent history, The Sunrise charts the decline of the once prosperous town into a ghostly half-ruin. Even today, no-one is allowed into Famagusta, which is fenced off with barbed wire and guarded by Turkish soldiers.  Eerily, some of the homes remain much as they were  forty years ago, 'still with books on the shelves.'

The writer first fell in love with Greece when she visited Athens in 1976 and now sees it as her second home. She is well known on the islands for the  film of her debut novel, The Island, and can speak Greek fluently - albeit with a French accent! So taken is she with the culture that she admits she'll never write a novel set in England. 'I don't think I can write about English people,' she said with a definite twinkle in her eye.

Are her characters based on real people? 'No character is based on one individual.' she explained, 'but they do reflect the various personalities of the Greeks.'

Victoria read English at university and became a travel journalist, before realising that it would be 'much more fun' to make up her own stories.  Every day she writes in the library near her home to avoid getting  distracted by the minutiae  of daily life  - and that includes eating, or having a cup of coffee. Which perhaps explains why she is very slim!

Does she still have ambitions? 'I'd like to write like Ian McEwan,' she said, without hesitation.

Despite being married to journalist and presenter Ian Hislop, a popular panellist on BBC's Have I Got News for You,' Victoria appears unfazed by her huge success. After answering numerous questions from the floor, she thanked Plackitt and Booth, booksellers, of Lytham for hosting the event and for being a great example of the successful independent bookshop.

The Sunrise is published by Headline and available in hardback and paperback from all good booksellers.


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