First Writes: Kerry Hudson on her first novel
Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma - the young Scottish author speaks about her debut
Kerry Hudson has a go at this issue’s debut author Q&A. Her first book has been described as Morvern Callar meets Shameless
Give us five words to describe Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma?
Profane, funny, tender, council-estate, debut. I know I’m pushing it with that hyphen.
Name one author who should be more famous than they are now?
A.M. Holmes is probably doing fine without my help but I do wish she was more widely read so I could discuss her books with everyone I know. Her writing is subversive and dark but always contains richly realised and often surprisingly sympathetic characters.
What was the first book you read?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I was obsessed by that book until I was about four and it’s no accident that Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma is full of food too; that book set the stage for a lifetime of thinking with my stomach.
What was the last book you read?
Heft by Liz Moore. A stunning observation of loneliness and how people shape other’s lives even when they only briefly fall into each other’s orbit. It also has delicious descriptions of sandwiches. Can you see a theme developing here?
Which book makes you cry?
Most recently Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? It is funny, brutally honest and totally unsentimental. I recognised so much of what she wrote about from my own experiences that it undid me on every page. I made a right show of myself when I read the last page on the bus to work.
Which book makes you laugh?
Roddy Doyle is one of my great writing heroes and his books, dripping with tar-black humour and cracking dialogue, are some of the funniest I’ve ever read. I’ve returned to the Barrytown books over and over again like an ex you can’t quite get over.
Which dead author do you wish was still alive today?
I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 13 sitting on the steps of a high-rise on a Lanarkshire council estate and its sweetness worked some sort of magic on me. So, Harper Lee could write another book, though perhaps one perfect book is enough for any writer. If I can be bold and have another, I’d also like to ask JD Salinger if he was happy watching tennis while chowing down on Whoppers in his dotage or whether he simply fell into the comfortable spin-cycle of regular life and got a bit stranded there.
What one thing would you change about the publishing world?
I did something recently where out of four writers taking part I was the only non-Oxbridge graduate. I’d love to see a broader reflection of the society we live in through contemporary literature. There’s still a huge bias towards certain types of book and I feel our literary culture is poorer for it. With so many fascinating people in this country and so many stories from the margins worth listening to, it’s a crime that at the moment our books only tell a fraction of the narratives of modern Britain.
What plans do you have for book number two?
I’ve already finished my second book, Thirst, which tells the story of a fragile love affair between a young Russian woman and a down-on-his-luck security guard over two scorching summers in Hackney and Siberia. Next, I plan to adapt Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma into a play. Then again, I can already feel novel three knocking behind my ribs demanding some voice. Or that might just be my belly rumbling …
Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma is out now published by Chatto & Windus.