This is a piece that I wrote for The Write To Make A Living and is republished here with Stacey’s kind permission.
May 6th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
May 1st, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
Other news includes a story of mine has been selected for this years MIR8 collection. It will be coming out in September. I’m very pleased to have once again been selected and that my work will appear alongside that of some extraordinary up and coming talent.
Got to run as I am taking the kids for a picnic, by a brook, where I have promised them there is a troll.
April 27th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I’ve been interviewed by Roxelana, for her blog, about e-pubbing and my work. Check it out here. I always find it strange reading back what I have said, in fact I always quickly scan the interview, almost through half shut eyes, hardly recognising the person that I was, uncertain of my own voice. In this case I got my wife to read it over just to make sure that I hadn’t said anything that might get me into trouble. It’s funny, with the other interviews that I have done for Heaven Sent, I was sent the questions and was able to take my time and consider the answers. For this one I spoke to Anna over Skype. It was a really lovely conversation. We chatted for a good hour or so. I came away thinking, that went really well. But as soon as the link came through I thought cripes, what did I say? Please God, don’t let me have ranted – I am prone to the odd rant, particularly after a few glasses of wine – not that I had any that night – no no no – sober as judge. After the interview I went for a long bike ride into the countryside surrounding where I live. It was late dusk and everywhere there was blossom. Anyway, I think I have done OK. Phew. Many many thanks to Roxelana.
April 21st, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
The very esteemed and lovely Stacey Donaldson invited me to write a post for her excellent book blog, about going Indian Jones and putting my novel out all on mi tod. Check it out here.
April 20th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I’m interviewed by the very lovely Evie Bookish, of Vancouver, BC, and she is offering readers the chance to win a couple of copies of Heaven Sent. What could be better? So make your merry way over to here.
April 15th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
"A heartbreaking, beautiful, romantic story, if you ever find the same love that these main characters have keep it!"
Check out the whole review at mybookaddiction
And I'm interviewed on mybookaddiction too.
I've been interviewed by the up and coming new horror fiction star Steve Emmett. You can find the interview here.
April 11th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
*****"Mix together Romeo and Juliette with Bonnie and Clyde and throw them into J.D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and you'll get an explosive, brilliant and breath taking novel: Heaven Sent, by debut author Xavier Leret." evie-bookish Read the rest of the review here.
Keep an eye out on Evie's site as she will be interviewing me next week, I am also writing a guest post for this week. And, as if there could be no more – she'll be holding a giveaway of Heaven Sent – what could be better?
Other news, I'm just putting the finishing touches to some questions that electric author Steve Emmett has thrown my way – so keep an eye out on his site too – (check out the video of the Canadian ex minister of defense too). I will of course make announcements here.
Finally you can buy Heaven Sent here. Go Get!
*****"A novel with a lasting effect…highly recommended!" Amazon.com
*****"A heartbreaking, beautiful, romantic story, if you ever find the same love that these main characters have keep it!" Book Girl Addict
*****"Leret displays a deftness with language and dialect that leaves the reader feeling eerily connected with the teenaged protagonists, who feel severed from the society in which they live." Marjorie. GoodReads
*****"a work of genius." Steve Emmett
This is a copy of the article that I wrote for Sheila Deeth's blog.
When I began Heaven Sent, it was a eureka moment, not in the sense that I had cracked something profound like light speed or the secrets to eternal life, I just knew that I had started my first novel. I hadn't set out to start it. It wasn't like when I wrote plays. I would announce that my theatre company was going to tour a play and it would be about this or that, and then I would write it. Heaven Sent didn't begin like that. I just wrote a thousand words. That thousand words were about sixteen year old Carlo, except that then he was fourteen. In that thousand words were three sentences where Carlo, a lad from an extremely religious background met a girl called Daizee, whose step father sold her to sailors from out the back of his van when she was just three years old.
None of that first thousand words made it into the novel, even though at the time I thought they were a brilliant thousand words. But what I thought was really special was Daizee and Carlo. Carlo was like everything that I wanted to be but didn't have the courage to be. And Daizee – well I just saw her through his eyes and she was dazzling. She was everything that would scare the hell out a parent. Crude, guttural, hard and yet vulnerable – though she would only show that side to Carlo. But more than this, she understands life. She knows that nothing is what it seems because she has been abused by the upright as well as the lowly.
Two weeks later I had sketched out what I thought the story would be. Then of course the characters decided to take over the narrative. Daizee and Carlo taught me how to write the book. They were very patient. They let me veer off on tangents and experiment in style. They let me have two or three years off when I wrote other plays or made a couple of movies – though they were talking to me constantly – Daizee especially. She was in my ear all the time. When I wanted to give up she would curse me, calling me all sorts.
Just after Christmas a year ago I sat down to finish the story, nothing was going to get in the way. I hadn't touched it for a year and I was angry at myself for not completing it.
Back then I thought Daizee and Carlo would have an equal presence. I wanted it to be equal. It took me half of last year to realise that actually it was really Carlo's story. Not to denigrate Daisy – I had written huge passages of her back story, that were shocking and disturbing – some of it I still think is extraordinary, but it was too much for most readers. And it wasn't very present, it was in the past and a story needs to move forward. I had written her stuff as first person narrative, she spoke directly to the reader and because it was so disturbing it was alienating. Heaven Sent is dark as it is, but to have added in that detail would have put off too many readers. So I/we compromised. Also during this last year I cut all the work of the five previous years. That was difficult.
Daizee's accent is thick Bristolian. Bristolian is almost like another language. I began to experiment with the accent over the summer and found that it made me experiment with her vocabulary. Using the accent gave her a very clear poetry and rhythm. I loved the way that visually it stood out from the page. It makes Daizee appear from out of this world. I think also it immediately makes people prejudiced against her – which is how most of the characters in the book are when confronted by her. She is difficult to understand and her accent will suggest to many that she is trash. But not to Carlo. And because he listens and loves… then perhaps…
April 7th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
Another incredible review. This one from Sheila Deeth in Oregon.
"Heaven Sent, by Xavier Leret is set in Bristol England and tells of a Catholic boy from an overly religious family meeting up with a child prostitute. Both of them outcasts on the streetcorner, they form a dangerous friendship. Carlo's attempts to empathize with Daisy lead him to the seamiest side of the city. A wonderful coming-of-age story meshing dark experience with the dictates of religious rules and heavenly mercy, this is a book to savor and remember long after reading." Read more.
My guest post is up on her site now! In it I explain some of my writng process.
April 6th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I'm the guest post on Rex Robot Reviews. Visit the site and you could win a copy of Heaven Sent. Competition ends April 20 2011.
And you'll never guess what else. Another competition to win Heaven Sent! Yes you heard it right! Check out vvb32. To win here you need to visit my moviereel, watch a clip and let them know which one. Personally I would choose the one about the old man dying. This competition ends May 1 2011.
April 5th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
I'm stunned and honoured that Heaven Sent has been selected by Bloggers Unite Book Club for a group read in Feb 2012.
April 1st, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
My first reviews are in and they are humdinger! You can find them and buy the book here. But because they are my first reviews you must forgive me for pasting them into this post.
*****A novel with a lasting effect…highly recommended!,
This is essentially a love story between two young people from different sides of the tracks.. one brought up in an oppressively religious household, the other dragged up & knocked about by life. The effect the two main characters have on each other is explosive.
Through the eyes of the boy Carlo the author allows us to see beyond the damaged front put up by Daizee and shows us her vulnerability. The reader is drawn into their relationship, willing it to succeed against all odds, whilst at the same time wanting to somehow make contact with Carlo and shout "Keep away from her! She's dangerous!" It is, at times, a painful read, as it examines the less savoury elements of human nature…however it also reminds us of the delights & passions of first love. It is quite different from anything I've read before & I found myself reading through the night just to see what happened next!
Reading this novel made me think about how appearances can be deceptive and how even the smallest decisions can change the course of our lives. It reminded me that whatever life throws at us we all need to love and be loved. A novel which will have a lasting effect on how I see life…Heaven Sent Heaven Sent
**** Difficult themes but well worth a read,
Having never really (I don't think) come across books of this genre before, I was really interested to see how the story would unfold. I wouldn't say it's the easiest book to read but it is definitely worthwhile, as the writer handles the themes involved with great care and skill. I would say that I'm glad I read it!! I think the main reason I found it so hard to read was because the main character, Carlo, is such a likeable personality that I didn't want anything bad to happen to him. We could all probably see elements of our sixteen year old selves in him; rebelling against some of the ideals and principles our parents teach us growing up…its par for the course. He's incredibly naive, although the deeper he gets into the situation he finds himself in, he thinks he's an adult. The fact that he imagines alternative views to his real experiences underline the fact that he is still a child. However, where he does show his maturity, is in his attitude to the events that unfold. He knows when something is wrong, he feels responsible for his actions (even if he doesn't confess straight-away), and he shows remorse for his actions. He doesn't try to blame someone else. He isn't really a bad lad, just out of his depths. Again, when it comes to Daizee, there is a childlike maturity, we as the reader (maybe like Carlo's parents) formulate the opinion, rather cynically, that this can only lead to no good and Carlo is a nice boy, but he sees something we can't. Daizee is the complete antithesis to Carlo, but this doesn't stop him from caring about her, and showing her incredible loyalty. He feels a duty to protect her, which you have to admire.
Daizee is a much harder character to like. She's a tough personality on the outside, but Carlo sees the vulnerability inside. Essentially, she is a victim of circumstances. She hasn't had the same safe, happy childhood as Carlo, hers has been more nightmarish and about living by her wits, so her moral code and justifications are not what "Society" would deem acceptable. At times, she seems happy to manipulate to get what she wants, and the cynical view is, is she doing this to Carlo. You just aren't sure she can be trusted. In hindsight, these are probably my own prejudices against her, rather like Carlo's parents. It's easy to judge her and say "she had a choice", but Society did nothing to protect her when she was at her most vulnerable. Yes, she has a choice, but its quite clear that Daizee sees this as her lot in life and doesn't expect it to change even with Carlo's influence, which ultimately is a tragedy. The only thing she wants out of life is something untarnished by her world that will love her unconditionally, in this case, Carlo.
Now I don't understand teenage speak at the best of times. It does require a great deal of concentration on my part, and the babelfish in my brain to be functioning properly. Even then, I still struggle. Mix that with a Bristolian accent and yes, I was in trouble. It did take a little while to get to grips with Daizee's speaking voice, which at times I did find a little comical (I think it was more my attempts to hear her voice by mimicking it while I was reading it, than anything else). Hats off to the author for this because it couldn't have been easy to write and I think it works really well.
After all this praise, was there anything I didn't like about the book. Well…there was one small thing, and it is very much a personal grumble. Speech marks. I did at times find it hard to know when characters, other than Daizee, had started speaking. I know it's accepted writing practice to either use them or in this case, not, but personally, I find it harder to read when they're absent.
Would I recommend this book, yes, but probably not to anyone under the age of 16/17, due to the content. If you're easily shocked by things then this probably isn't the book for you as it contains themes that show the harsher side of life. Although having said that, it's probably one of the reasons why you should read it. We all know that some people live nightmare lives. Maybe we should just feel grateful that we never have to experience them ourselves. Or hope we never will.
My thanks to Xavier for allowing me to read and review his book!
Disclaimer: I was kindly supplied with a copy of this book by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have not been provided with any compensation for this review other than a copy of the book.
You can read other reviews by Spritesby here http://spritebysbokhylle.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/book-review-heaven-sent/