We’re delighted to welcome C.A. Lupton to the blog today to chat about her debut novel, Red Dirt Girl, which she wrote on our Novel Creator Course with mentoring from Amanda Saint. Congratulations Carol!
Can you tell us more about the novel?
Red Dirt Girl is something of a hybrid: part noir-detective; part speculative fiction. Set in a nondescript post-European state in the late 2000s, it explores the likely course – and possible consequences – of human genetic modification, or ‘species-editing’.
The loss of habitable land mass has led to limits on human reproduction and only the chosen can breed. It’s the hottest summer on human record and tension between the reproductive ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is rising to the boil. In this steamy mix, Detective Cooper-Clark (Coop to his friends) finds the body of a young woman, recently miscarried of an illegal baby. Convinced that the lost child is the key to her murder, Coop is drawn into the murky waters of state-sponsored eugenics and to the heart of an existential struggle over the control of human reproduction.
You revised the first draft of Red Dirt Girl on our Novel Creator Course so can you let us know what aspects of the course were most helpful for you?
At the time I enrolled on the course led by Amanda and Craig, my confidence as a writer was running on empty. After a working life in academia, I had assumed that writing pure fiction would be a comparatively easy process and I produced a first full draft quite quickly. Initial feedback from ‘beta’ readers (i.e. not friends or family) however identified a range of issues, such as character, pace, plot, which starkly revealed the arrogance of my assumption: writing fiction is a difficult business and I needed to learn the tricks of the trade.
Amanda and Craig’s course provided the ideal means to this end. A detailed initial assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of my writing, supported by well-planned course materials and insightful feedback, helped me to improve every aspect of the manuscript. More than anything however, the fact that an experienced literary professional was prepared to take my novel seriously, helped me to believe in the book again and in my ability as a writer. Had I not joined the course, I doubt that Red Dirt Girl would have seen the light of day.
What are you working on now?
Red Dirt Girl was conceived as a trilogy – each book exploring a different dimension of the
issue of species modification. The second book, Pigus – focusing on ‘genetic chimerism’, or
the creation of hybrid human/animal life forms – is currently underway, greatly assisted by
the learning, and the self-confidence, that I gained from attending Craig and Amanda’s
Thanks so much for coming along and telling us more about your book and your experience writing it with us on our course. We can’t wait to read the next in the series!
Red Dirt Girl is an excellent read and you can get a copy in bookshops online and off.