Jasper FForde’s new novel ‘The Woman Who Died A Lot’ came out yesterday and Mr Fforde is touring bookshops across the country in order to promote it. The book forms the seventh instalment the series starring Thursday Next, a literary detective in a parallel universe where time travel was possible, dodos have been brought back from extinction and physics is rather different. This particular chapter of the story apparently brings us more delights, such as the rise of Yo Toast outlets, the smiting of cities by an angry deity, some rather feisty librarians with the power to conduct dawn raids to holders of overdue books and ornamental hermits. The novel moves away from Bookworld and instead the action takes place in Swindon, Thursday’s home town and the action focuses more closely on her family life.
Fforde’s talk was brilliant; he is an erudite and articulate speaker with a fascinating mind. He spoke of his methods of writing, which unlike authors who meticulously plan their work, centre around a series of ‘narrative dares’, Fforde explains these to be the literary equivalent of how Scottish cuisine is built upon a foundation of culinary dares. He told us avid readers that in such times of austerity as we find ourselves in today, he wanted to give something back as an author, and so incorporated an extra plot thread into this new novel, absolutely free! This means that ‘The Woman Who Died A Lot’ (a title which may sound strange, but Fforde is extremely proud of) deals with no less than 4 simultaneous main storylines, which ensure that the book promises to be just as action-packed and exciting as its 6 predecessors.
Fforde is a walking advert for authors’ determination. He wrote 6 ½ novels before one was published, 4 of which are now available in print. It is strange to think that there was a time in which nobody thought that Thursday Next and her manipulation of literature deserved a place on the British bookshelf but Fforde continued to believe in her and his determination paid off. He now writes 2 books a year with just 140 days allocated to each one. In order to achieve this he has to spend 8 hours in front of his laptop every day, whether that day is a ‘scribblage day’ (where he forces himself to get words on the page) or a ‘combing day’ (‘prose is like hair – it improves with combing’). But his efforts do not go unnoticed. Many fans have pre-ordered their copies of Thursday’s new adventure, and I myself cannot wait to get started. Let’s hope it lives up to the hype!!