John Aberdein - Strip the Willow

This article is from 2009.

John Aberdein - Strip the Willow

Hard-edged visions of the future

Think you can handle pressure? Try following an award-winning debut. John Aberdein kept a cool head when it came to writing Strip the Willow however, despite the huge anticipation for the novel as a result of excellent first offering Amande’s Bed. ‘Some book people got the notion I was going to copy my Amande’s Bed ‘formula’ and write a follow-up bestseller,’ he says. ‘But I’m more concerned with being alert to what’s happening now and finding a novel way to approach it. That’s partly why it took three years to write.’

The scribe’s latest offering is a darkly comic love story and striking social commentary, set in the city of Uberdeen — a vision of a future, multinational-run Granite City — and he will be reading from it at his forthcoming event with Esther Woolfson. ‘At first I wondered why the festival supremos had chosen to have us jamming together,’ Aberdein says. ‘Then I discovered that both our current novels explore the poignant perspectives involved in re-opening a relationship after a 40-year silence. Plus some pretty hard-edged historical and political stuff.’

Aberdein and Woolfson make for an intriguing pairing indeed, and the former is clearly looking forward to discussing their work in more detail; it’s all part of what is shaping up to be an incredibly successful year for him. ‘Amande’s Bed was a homage to my people, Strip the Willow; an exorcism, a clearing of certain decks,’ he explains. ‘The third is entitled Hearts and Minds and I’m reading widely and hoping to travel to the States in September. Hearts and Minds aims to explore the limits of love in this world of ours.’

21 Aug (with Esther Woolfson), 4.30pm, £6 (£4).

John Aberdein & Esther Woolfson

FIRST FICTION Ambitious new Scottish fiction. John Aberdein follows up his award-winning first novel with a satirical love story set in Uberdeen, a dystopian vision of a future Aberdeen. Esther Woolfson's novel Piano Angel sees a man forced to confront his past and his estranged brother when he returns to Glasgow.

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