Last night’s #SJsTwitterBookClub featured author and activist Paul Burston (@paulburston), and we talked about his brilliant psychological thriller, The Closer I Get. Paul gave us a (spoiler-free) introduction to the book. ‘It’s about the relationship between a successful novelist who’s struggling to complete his new book,’ he said, ‘and an online fan. We know from the outset that she’s on trial for harassment. I was more interested in the aftermath - what happens afterwards, the impact of the crime.’
From there we chatted about the inspirations for the book, and Paul revealed that the book was inspired by, and partly based on, something that happened to him. ‘I had an online stalker. It wasn’t like in the book - ie they weren’t a fan. Quite the opposite, in fact. But the early chapters are all based on the case, which did go to court and resulted in a conviction. It left me very shaken and too proud to admit it, rather like Tom.’
We talked about autobiographical novels, and whether they come from a deeper place and therefore end up more successful, before the conversation moved on to Paul’s jump from LGBT fiction (for want of a better descriptor) to the murky world of crime. ‘I felt I had nothing left to say about the world I’d been writing about … for over 20 years. And the novels I’d written previously had got darker and darker, so it felt like the logical next step.’
And we also touched on Paul’s skincare regime and love of the groyne.
*the answer, according to Paul, is coconut oil.
All in all, we had great fun! Next week, author Matt Cain (@MattCainWriter) joins us, and we’ll be talking about his hilarious, touching book, The Madonna of Bolton. Don’t miss it.