Saturday, June 27, 2009

Caroline Smailes

I want to introduce you to a courageous new writer.

Her name is Caroline Smailes. She’s from Newcastle.

I don’t know if she’s courageous in the physical sense, I’ve never met her in the flesh. Maybe she can crush spiders in a fist (unlike me) or cringes at the scrape of chalk on a blackboard.

I know she’s a capable mum with three children, which takes physical courage so I would guess that she is.

The bravery I’m talking about is in her writing. It’s there for all to see. Caroline writes with the intensity of a blowtorch. Her words ring with unflinching truth. Whether she's writing about child abuse or the harrowing relationships suffered by mismatched men and women, tainting, tarnishing and finally destroying the lives of their children.

Ms Smailes writes from the viewpoint of a tortured, grieving spirit that has been mercilessly battered by a pitiless life. That parallel hell we all fear in our blackest imaginings if our cosy worlds were to ever crash around us.

She’s there, putting on paper the dark places we recognise, but, in embarrassment, guilt, or self-denial, avoid thinking about. Caroline speaks where we fear to utter. Surely the precinct of the truest of artists? She writes about what concerns her – not about what might make money.

A true breath of creative fresh air because, with such bravery comes real originality, making her voice unique to her. You can’t mistake her style for anyone else.

Typically, in 2005 Caroline took a bold decision to change her life and to pursue her writing career wherever it led. I guess it has not been easy. But Caroline doesn’t do easy. In three years she produced two masterful, important novels that, I believe, redefine their genre. They are published by The Friday Project.

Her first is: In Search Of Adam’

“In Search of Adam is a profoundly affecting book. It deals with the horrors of a damaged childhood caused by a mother’s suicide, a father’s neglect and child abuse. Dark stuff, but it is handled with a deep sensitivity and realism by Newcastle-born
author Caroline Smailes.”

So said The Big Issue in the North.

I can’t think of a better source of a blurb for such a work.

Her second is: Black Boxes’

In it we meet Ana Lewis. She is 37 years old and lives with her two children, Pip and Davie. In the opening Ana has just taken an overdose of pills.

By the end of this book Ana will be dead.

Black Boxes follows the final hours of Ana’s life, recording her thoughts and memories. As the drugs start to kick in, we discover the awful sequence of events that have brought her to this moment.

Powerful, uncompromising stuff. I challenge you to think in the same way after reading these tour de force novels as when you started reading them. That's where her art is.

See a fascinating interview with her on 5th Estate here.


  1. Thanks for the intro to this author. I've never read her and am looking forward to it.

  2. She is a very thought provoking lady. I hope you enjoy her books.