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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Desert Island Books - Choices from Timeslip novelist Alis Hawkins

Today I am a guest with Radio Lancashire on the Sally Naden Morning Show, and also visiting Historical Tapestry where they are reviewing The Gilded Lily. Whilst I am away, I am delighted to welcome playwright and novelist Alis Hawkins. 
A desert island might be a bit of a shock for Alis as she spent an idyllic childhood on a dairy farm in West Wales, before going on to read English at Oxford. No lofty spires on this desert island, only waving palms. Alis then went on to train as a speech and language therapist, which could come in handy if the island proves to be inhabited. She now works part time as a specialist in autism spectrum conditions and spends the rest of her time writing plays or novels.

Her first novel, a time-slip novel set in the great age of Cathedral-building, Testament, was published to acclaim in 2008. She wrote and directed a promenade play for Rochester cathedral in 2009, and as part of the Dickens bicentenary celebrations Rochester Cathedral commissioned her to write another Dickens- themed play to be performed in the Cathedral garth in June this year, which was also a great success.

Pride and Prejudice because it always makes me laugh and I suspect I shall need some laughs on the desert island - and because it's longstanding proof that you can write a genre novel (because what is it but a classic ' boy meets girl, girl hates boy, girl falls in love with reformed boy' love story) whilst, at the same time writing a literary classic!

Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman because it's flayingly honest (which I always both like and admire) whilst being kind and killingly, knicker-threateningly amusing (see comments on the need for laughs above).

How to Play Folk Guitar. OK it's not a self-help book as such but it'll help me not to feel I'm completely missing out on the island. But you will, in time-honoured fashion, have to let me have the luxury of taking a guitar as well!

Thanks Alis, you might have to make your own guitar out of bamboo and shredded leaves!

Testament is available in hardback, paperback and e-book.
Blurb: When Damia Miller is employed to promote revered Kineton and Dacre college, it doesn’t take her long to recognise that a grotesque antique painting recently uncovered on one of the college’s walls might hold the key to the college’s future. Six hundred years earlier, master mason Simon of Kineton is preparing plans for his magnum opus, a college to rival anything in England. His work only interrupted when he becomes father to the son he has longed for for twenty years. In the present day, Damia grows increasingly obsessed with the mysterious wall-painting and the college’s dark history. What is the painting trying to tell her? Why was the college named after its mason as well as its founder? And who does the statue of the carefree boy in the Toby Yard represent? In mediaeval Salster, Simon of Kinnerton is struggling to come to terms with the fact that his son is disabled – cursed, in the eyes of many of Salster’s townspeople. But just as Simon himself is coming to accept young Toby a tragedy occurs whose repercussions will echo until the present day. Testament is a startling feat of imaginative skill, distinguished by the breadth of its vision, and by the heartbreaking story at its centre: that of the sacrifice a child made for his father, six hundred years ago.


  1. Thanks for having me Deborah - I fear it's the nearest I'll ever get to the hallowed Desert Island! Hope your gigs at Radio Lancashire and Historical Tapestry went well?

  2. Thanks for the link to my review at Historical Tapestry.

  3. Alis, I see you on the island playing the guitar not only composing music but writing lyrics about girl meets boy, trouble brews but the girl knows how to be a woman and will figure it all out.