Writing the voice of a child or a young person is one of the most difficult things for an adult writer to get right. If you don’t then your fiction will fail before it’s even begun. Novels which have pulled it off successfully include James Kelman’s Kieron Smith, boy, Anne Donovan’s Buddha Da, Alan Bissett’s The Incredible Adam Spark, Des Dillon’s Me & Ma Gal, and Helen MacKinven’s Talk Of The Toun.
To those we can add Ross Sayers’ debut Mary’s The Name. Mary is an orphan who lives with Granpa, two people whose lives are going along with the usual trials and tribulations until an unfortunate event occurs which will change both of them forever. Granpa works in the local bookies and both he and Mary are under threat when the shop is help up by “robbers with hammers”, as Mary describes them.
It’s an arresting and memorable opening, and Sayers gets Mary’s voice and point of view straight away. She sees life through the prism of her grandpa’s influence and that colours what she believes, and what she sees – and what she believes she sees. While Granpa hatches plans which will have a lasting effect on Mary’s life she starts out as unquestionably trusting of her hero, but as they travel and interact with the wider world she starts to see that he is as flawed and human as the other adults she meets. Continue reading