Bumper virtual book launch part 2: Chatting to authors whose Scottish events have been cancelled

While everyone is doing their bit by staying apart, we're finding out more about the books currently hitting our shelves. Find out about new publications from the authors themselves in our virtual gathering

A good read is just what many of us are looking for right now and we're glad to see that publishers and authors are continuing to bring fresh stories out. As these brilliant new books are not getting the kind of launches and book shop events we're used to, we've been gathering authors together (in a virtual sense) to simulate something similar right here.

I put on my very best 'this is more of a statement than a question' hat for the second time to host a little Q&A for a bumper crop of writers. We're sorry that you have to provide your own refreshments, but please join us in raising a glass to the authors below!

As your host for the morning / afternoon / evening, please first let me introduce our authors and their books.

P.M. Freestone is launching Crown of Smoke, the follow up to the fantastic The Darkest Bloom bringing readers back to the scent-laden world of her Shadowscent duology. You can also join her for an online Instagram launch on Tue 31 March.

We also have Joe Donnelly letting us know about his new book, Checkpoint, a fascinating look at the ways computer games can comfort and heal.

From John McNee, we have the aptly titled Doom Cabaret, a collection of dark, disturbing and intoxicating horror stories.

Mary Paulson-Ellis is chatting to us about the paperback release of The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing, an absorbing and intimate story about Heir Hunters.

Bumper virtual book launch part 2: Chatting to authors whose Scottish events have been cancelled

What inspired you to write this book?

Joe: Video games and mental health are two subjects close to my heart. As an ex-video games journalist, I've written about both and their complex intersections for places like the Guardian, VICE and the New Statesman on numerous occasions – but my upcoming narrative non-fiction book Checkpoint goes deeper still with loads of personal and professional insights into why video games are uniquely placed to educate and inform on issues of mental health.

Mary: All my books are set in what I call the 'territory of the dead' – the world of those who die with no next of kin. In this case I got interested in Heir Hunters who chase the estates of people who die without a will, in return for a slice of their cash.

Is this your first book?

P.M: Crown of Smoke is the conclusion to the YA fantasy Shadowscent duology, which started with my first book, The Darkest Bloom. It's set in a world were perfume is power, and life revolves around scent.

Did you have first / second / third / fourth book jitters while writing?

John: I have those jitters with every new project. Within a few paragraphs of starting any fresh story it always feels like whatever talent or motivation I had has deserted me and I won't be able to get it back. By the time a book is ready to be published, I'm always very happy with it, but the struggle of the writing process never gets any easier.

Joe: I wouldn't say I had jitters as such, but I did find the process of writing about something so personal harder than I thought it'd be. Part of what drives my writing in this area is the fact my uncle took his own life in 2008, so revisiting this and everything this has touched, impacted and shaped in my life wasn't always easy.

What's the one question everyone has asked you about your new book?

Mary: How I made the historical narrative (set amongst a group of soldiers at the very end of WW1) feel so immediate and real. The answer: thinking of those young men as alive right now with all their gripes, ambitions, traumas and loves. Also what it must have been like for them to know that the end was coming, but not when or how.

P.M.: Who the third narrator will be! The adventures of The Darkest Bloom were told from the point of view of Rakel and Ash, and Crown of Smoke features a third narrator very close to my dark, dark heart. The keenest fans have already guessed who, I'm sure.

Joe: Aren't video games bad for your mental health? To which my answer is a resounding no, not at all, video games can be, and often are, invaluable to improving players' mental health! I hope Checkpoint can help dismantle this and other misconceptions and stereotypes tied to video games and video game culture.

I'm afraid that's all the time we have for questions, yes sir, I see you at the back there, perhaps you could follow this up on Twitter after the event? A big round of applause for the authors, whose books are out now or coming soon.

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