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Amy Arnold: Slip of a Fish

My debut novel, Slip of a Fish, is narrated by Ash, a complex character who collects words, climbs trees and swims in a deserted lake with her beloved seven-year-old daughter, Charlie. Bemused and overwhelmed by everyday life, Ash has a rich and singular interior world. She is relentless in her efforts to make sense of her relationships past and present.

Over the course of a presciently hot summer, Charlie begins to pull away from Ash and Ash’s naive attempts to reconnect with Charlie end in failure. Ash does something truly unforgivable and their relationship is damaged beyond repair. Ill-equipped to handle this loss, Ash retreats further into her head and her life begins to slip out of her hold.

When I wrote Slip of a Fish I was really interested in the way people miscommunicate – almost as modus operandi. I wanted to see if I could capture a sense of how our understanding and use of language can isolate us from other people as much as it can bring us together.

I didn’t know how far this idea would take me, but it wasn’t long before I realised that I had to let Ash do this unforgivable thing. It was difficult to write, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d be too angry with her to go on writing. But I’d already got to know Ash well and wasn’t about to give up on her. I suppose Slip of a Fish asks the same question of all of us. Can we empathise with someone, even when we don’t condone their actions?

Amy Arnold was born in Oxford in 1974. She studied Neuropsychology at Birmingham University and has worked in a variety of jobs from packing swedes to teaching and lecturing. She lives in Cumbria, and in 2018 was awarded the inaugural Northern Book Prize, run by New Writing North and And Other Stories, for her debut novel, Slip of a Fish.

Events

Pontefract Library,
28-32 Market Pl, Pontefract, WF8 1BD
Monday 13 May, 7.30pm
(Joint event with Andrew Michael Hurley)

Sunderland City Library,
Burdon Rd, Sunderland, SR1 1SE
Thursday 23 May, 2.30pm

Consett Library,
Victoria Road, Consett, DH8 5AT
Tuesday 4 June, 2.30pm

Penrith Library,
St. Andrew’s Churchyard, Penrith, CA11 7YA
Wednesday 5 June, 6.30pm

Hazel Grove Library,
Beech Avenue, Hazel Grove, Stockport SK7 4QP
Tuesday 11 June, 7pm
(Joint event with Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi)

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