Talk of the Toun – guest post from Helen MacKinven

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Today I am VERY happy to be kicking off the blog tour for Helen’s book “Talk of the Toun” – details below. And here she tells us about her lifelong love of Libraries.


A Lifelong Love of Libraries

I was born with the greedy gene. I’m not a fan of everything in moderation except when it applies to Brussel sprouts. I’m more prone to taking the ‘all or nothing’ approach and if I like something I want a LOT of it, hence the reason why I had to join Weight Watchers. My binge mentality doesn’t just apply to food. I LOVE words and have always been a voracious reader since I could flick through picture books as a toddler. My appetite for books was only satisfied because I had access to my local library and made a weekly trip to gobble up more words.

Pic 1 Denny library

I didn’t grow up in a house filled with books but I was encouraged to visit the library and there’s no doubt in my mind that it made a HUGE difference to my education. I also believe that you can’t develop as a writer unless you’re an avid reader. That’s why I was very proud to learn that the Scottish government is giving £80,000 to local authorities to auto-enrol every child in Scotland. Now every child has the opportunity to experience the pleasure books can bring and hopefully this will boost their chances of growing up as a fan of reading.

My weekly visits to a library extended beyond childhood when I worked as a librarian’s assistant while I was studying to be a primary school teacher. Being surrounded by books made me wonder about the names on the book spines. Who were these people? How did you become an author? No one in my small working class town wrote books. My hometown was part of an industrial landscape where men went to work in the local foundries and brick works and women worked in the bra or jeans factory. I didn’t dream of being an author because it was beyond the power of my imagination

Pic 2 Wrangler Jeans factory

This idea of social class and career expectations is a key theme in my novel, Talk of the Toun, as the main character desperately wants to go to art school but her big ambition doesn’t match the small town expectations of her parents. I was lucky to be the first person in my extended family to go on to higher education and eventually I realised that there was nothing to stop me being a writer. I found role models like Janice Galloway who didn’t let their working class roots hold them back and finally after many years as a reader I made the leap and became a writer too. The dream is now to see my own book on the shelves of my hometown’s library – an image that’s kept me motivated on the long and bumpy road to publication.

About the book:


Published 29th October by Thunderpoint.

Lifelong friends Angela and Lorraine are two very different girls, with a growing divide in their aspirations and ambitions putting their friendship under increasing strain.

Artistically gifted Angela has her sights set on art school, but lassies like Angela, from a small town council scheme, are expected to settle for a nice wee secretarial job at the local factory. Her only ally is her gallus gran, Senga, the pet psychic, who firmly believes that her granddaughter can be whatever she wants.

Though Lorraine’s ambitions are focused closer to home Angela has plans for her too, and a caravan holiday to Filey with Angela’s family tests the dynamics of their relationship and has lifelong consequences for them both.

Effortlessly capturing the religious and social intricacies of 1980s Scotland, Talk of the Toun is the perfect mix of pathos and humour as the two girls wrestle with the complications of growing up and exploring who they really are.


Purchase Information:

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Happy Reading Folks!

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3 Responses to Talk of the Toun – guest post from Helen MacKinven

  1. Many thanks for hosting the first ‘stop’ on the blog tour Liz – much appreciated.

  2. Nice start to the tour – good to see a different angle!

  3. Poppy says:

    Great first post – like you I have that greedy gene too and do wish it only applied to book 😉

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