Thursday, 15 June 2017

Skin Deep Book Tour

 
It’s what’s inside that counts…
 
Art student and former model Diana has always been admired for her beauty but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.
 
Facially disfigured four-year- old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything; Cal becomes Diana’s muse. But as Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.
 
Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
 
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what's on the outside counts for so much?
 
 
I'm thrilled to welcome Laura Wilkinson onto the Blooming Fiction blog feed!!
 
 
Skin Deep is a novel about appearance, focusing on two characters from opposing ends of the spectrum, and the value we place as a society on external versus internal beauty. Our world is incredibly visual and one of my central characters, Diana, is a visual artist, so I thought it would be fun – and hopefully interesting – to produce a pictorial impression of the novel for Blooming Fiction. Thank you for hosting me, Katie.
 
Hulme, an area of central Manchester, is the back drop for the first part of the novel and it is on a sink estate here that the two leads, artist Diana and the boy Cal, meet. The estate was a 70s social housing disaster. Victorian slum dwellings were torn down in the late 60s only to be replaced with more modern slums.
 
 
 
Within a decade of completion the glorious ‘streets in the sky’ were a breeding ground for vermin, crime and anti-social behaviour; the families it had been built for had been moved out. Apart from the occasional family unit like that Cal inhabits until Diana becomes his guardian.
 
 
The four notorious crescents and the ‘safer’ rows were flattened in the early 90s to make way for more appropriate housing. I studied for my degree in Manchester and lived in a Hulme flat in a similar time-frame to Diana.
 
If this makes it sound like a nightmarish place to live, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, crime was rife, the cockroaches and damp were a pain, but Hulme was a vital, creative (and cheap) environment in which to live. Artists thrived there and it was, without a doubt, the most extraordinary place I’ve ever lived.
 
 
Ever since, I wanted to write about Hulme and Manchester but it was decades before I found my story.
 
 
I am a fan of art, particularly modern art. While copywriting for a charity which helps children damaged by congenital deformity I became aware of the work of French performance artist ORLAN  and American shape-shifting photographer Cindy Sherman.
 
 
Both women use themselves as canvas and both are, to my eyes, beautiful and they were the inspiration for Diana. The germ of the story which grew into Skin Deep was seeded. It’s perhaps worth noting that Cal’s disfigurement is deliberately non-specific. I took inspiration from a number of conditions, all of which are extremely rare. I drew (ahem) parallels with John Merrick – aka The Elephant Man – in the novel but Cal’s condition is totally fictional.
 
Diana grew up in leafy north London – Highgate – and her section of the novel ends in the beautiful and haunting Highgate Cemetery and Cal’s ends in Brockwell Park in south London, another stunning location with a great view over the city. It felt fitting to end the story in beautiful places with a sense of hope running through it.
 
 
 
My thanks to Charlie Baker for the pictures of 80s/90s Hulme.
 

About The Author

Liverpool born, Laura is a taff at heart. She has published six novels for adults (two under a pseudonym) and numerous short stories, some of which have made the short lists of international competitions. Public Battles, Private Wars, was a Welsh Books Council Book of the month; Redemption Song was a Kindle top twenty. The Family Line is a family drama set in the near future, looking at identity and parenting.
 
Her latest is Skin Deep. Alongside writing, Laura works as an editor and mentor for literary consultancies and runs workshops on aspects of craft. She’s spoken at festivals and events nationwide, including the Frome Festival, Gladfest, University of Kingston, The Women’s Library and Museum in Docklands. She lives in Brighton with her husband and sons.

 
*PR Samples received unless otherwise stated. Some blog posts contain affiliate links.
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