I’ve just finished reading a book. It’s one of those books that you read as an author and think: damn, why didn’t I write that? The answer, of course, is that you are a different person with a different outlook, different experiences, a different imagination. I write emotional, dark-themed family dramas. I’m fascinated by emotions. I love how sadness, anger, happiness, fear, and an array of emotions between and around, elicit physical reactions in people, influence decision making, interfere with rational thought and alter behaviour. Emotions are something we all have to deal with, whether we indulge them or repress them, they’re there in all of us, driving us forward. This book I’ve just finished, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, also has emotion as a propelling force. Love, hope, humiliation, fear, grief, regret, all these pulse at the heart of the book. But in addition the author, Caroline Smailes, has done something we all secretly wish we could do. She’s allowed her imagination to run free. She’s freed her poetic, gritty, sweary prose from the shackles of convention and written a fairy tale. A glorious fairytale that’s rooted in mythology but totally modern in its telling. Her vivid description of place and person is stunning. She weaves ancient with super modern, mythological siren with the more terrifying side of social media, adolescent fears and desires with quirky, eccentric characters. Some parts are uneasy reading, one or two parts are very uneasy reading, but again, for me this is home from home, if it ain’t dark it ain’t hitting my sweet spot, Baby. This gem of a book hit my sweet spot full-on. Reading it showed me it’s OK to push your boundries. It’s OK to write what you want to write and not worry about who’s reading it. If you’re true to yourself you will delight those readers who identify with you. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s one of the loveliest pieces of evocative, unusual, surreal storytelling I’ve read for a long time. The book I wrote before Sworn Secret, the book that snared my Lovely Agent, but sadly didn’t snare an editor, is waiting in the wings for a rewrite. It has elements of otherworldliness and a dash of Cornish mythology. Reading The Drowning of Arthur Braxton has left me champing at the bit to get back to that manuscript and indulge my imagination. When you find a book that’s this inspiring, you know it’s a good’un.