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North East floats latest book idea for North Shields author Debbie Taylor

North Tyneside author Debbie Taylor's Herring Girl is launched, quite literally, on Newcastle quayside

Debbie Taylor, and her new novel Herring Girl
Debbie Taylor, and her new novel Herring Girl

If you want to make a splash with your latest novel then you might as well do it right and it seems for local writer Debbie Taylor a book launch should mean just that.

Why is why Thursday’s attention-grabbing debut of her historical crime mystery Herring Girl will take place at a party on board a boat at Newcastle Quayside.

What’s more, Debbie has put plenty thought into the event and is promising cold bubbles and fishy “smackerels” plus a three-hour cruise along the Tyne where her novel is set.

There will be a reading from it too - a “very short” apparently, serving just to set the scene.

The author lives in a decommissioned lighthouse in North Shields and it was her unusual home that apparently inspired Herring Girl which investigates a century-old murder and the possibility of reincarnation.

Debbie explains: “While researching the history of the lighthouse I came across photographs of the Fish Quay in 1898, bristling with hundreds and hundreds of herring boat masts, whereas now there are just a few little prawn boats moored there.

“I wanted to write a story that would link that vibrant and dangerous past to the present day, and reincarnation seemed an ideal way to do that.”

Her story features a schoolboy called Ben who wants a sex change as he believes he has been born into the wrong body and he agrees to his therapist’s suggestion to undergo hypnosis.

During these trances, 12-year-old Ben recalls a former life as a herring girl called Annie who died violently in 1898 at the age of 16.

Debbie’s intriguing tale, whose plot shifts back and forth in time between the date of Annie’s death and the present, examines the idea of souls reincarnating in groups repeat­edly down the centuries, and the links between Annie and Ben suggest that those close to him could also be the same people involved in the drama of well over a century ago - which means there could still be a murderer around.

Debbie, who has previously trained as a psychologist and worked as a journalist with magazine New Internationalist, when she took foreign assignments in the developing world, is the founder and editor of Mslexia, a Newcastle-based magazine for women writers, and because of her work commitments she has spent some years on the novel.

She says: “The book took eight years to complete - so I thought it would be good to, er, push the boat out for the launch party!”

She had to fit in her research and writing around her normal working day and during the process the subject of reincarnation absorbed her.

On her website www.debbietaylor.co she discusses the research, including a paranormal survey she did which had 2,541 participants.

She intends to write up reports on the results which will no doubt make a splash of their own.

The launch of Herring Girl, which is published by Oneworld at £16.99, takes place on Thursday at 5.30pm on Fortuna on the Newcastle Quayside, near the Pitcher and Piano. The cruise leaves at 6pm and tickets cost £5.

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