10 Aug 2017

Blog Tour Author Interview / A Message from the Other Side by Moira Forsyth

When Catherine moves several hundred miles away from her sister, Helen says, ‘Phone calls aren’t enough’, but they make it easier to edit the truth. Helen can dismiss Gilbert and his enchanted Factory as ‘weird’ when she’s never met him, and Catherine think Helen foolish for loving the unreliable and dangerous Joe. 

Neither sees the perils concealed in what they have not told each other, or guesses at the sinister connection between their separate lives. 

A Message from the Other Side is a novel about love and marriage, but even more about hatred and the damage people do to each other in the most ordinary of families.


If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

As an editor, in my ‘day job’ I work with other writers all the time, and with (almost!) all of them it’s a pleasure and privilege. I’ve never collaborated on a project with an author, but that’s a project tucked away for when I have more time. It would be my partner Robert Davidson – he’s a very different writer from me, so we’d complement each other. We often talk about doing this, but have never had the time and the good idea together so far!

What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I have written in lots of unlikely places – cafés, railway stations, the waiting area by a swimming pool… but usually I’m at the desk in my little study at the top of the house, surrounded by drawings, photographs and poems pinned up on the wall. I used to write everything longhand in the first draft, but a bout of tendonitis in the past has meant my handwriting is not good, and too painful to do for any length of time. So it’s the PC now – I like a big screen and a proper keyboard. Because I can rarely write daily, full time, this often has to be tucked into the corners of my life, but now and again I take some time out and focus on my own work. New writing is usually done in the morning, before the rest of the world has crowded in. I feed the cat, go back to bed to read for twenty minutes, go for a run then come back to shower, dress and sit at my desk. I like to have a walk or work in the garden after lunch, then come back to what I wrote in the morning and work on it again. Sometimes, if I’m well on with a novel, I’ll write again late in the evening, because by then it’s all I’m thinking about.

What is the hardest part of the writing for you?

The worst part is the uneasy period when I’ve finished one novel but haven’t begun another. There are ideas, odd paragraphs, sometimes several chapters, none of them going anywhere. It’s frustrating. I love that day when you suddenly realise you’ve got it – the new story has begun to unroll in front of you like a landscape with a winding road. When that happens I can’t wait to follow it, and I write steadily, and quite fast, from then on.

When and why did you first start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a young child – I can’t remember not telling stories or writing them. I completed my first novel at twelve, then as a young teenager I wrote long stories putting my friends in as characters, as well as the pop stars we all loved, and these were passed round the classroom – some of my friends from those days remember waiting for the next instalment!

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

‘A Message from the Other Side’ began with a dream about the empty space that became the upper floor in The Factory in the novel. When I woke up, couldn’t stop thinking about it: it seemed too good to waste. At the same time, I had a few chapters about two sisters and the ex-husband of one of them, but no real story to put them in. These two strands began to merge, and once I had the character of Gilbert, who tries to make The Factory into a going concern, I was able to plan the novel.

Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?

I’m always reading – I can’t go to sleep at night if I don’t have a book. Just now I’m re-reading the novels of Mary Wesley. A great inspiration for any hopeful writer, she wasn’t published till she was seventy, and became a huge best seller. I’ve ordered her biography and look forward to that – I love literary biographies.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

Join a good writers’ group if you can. I was lucky to be a member of Dingwall Writers’ Group in the 1990s, some of whose members were superb writers and excellent critics. Impartial, constructive feedback is vital. Give your work to people whose judgement you respect, and listen to what they tell you. Read good writers, and learn from them.

The Message from The Other Side ebook deal will be down to £1 on Amazon, iBooks and the Kobo Store. Links to the Kobo and Amazon pages are below: