Interview with Keith Farnish

What is Almost Gone about?
If it's about anything, it's the need for connection to the real world, and how things can go terribly wrong when humans lose that connection. The theme crosses the entire Conorol Trilogy, but in Almost Gone it is hidden for much of the book because the culture and people we are being introduced to have never known what it is like to be disconnected. I don't want to give too much of the story away, suffice to say, there are three main characters who are each on their own journeys, through life and the landscape they cross in the search for answers to what is happening to the world in which they live. They each experience joy and pain, and discover far more about themselves and the world they are moving through than they could ever have expected.
Why did you choose to publish Almost Gone as an Ebook?
When you have to wait for months, and sometimes years, for an agent to decide your book is worth sending to a publisher, who then might decide it's just not what is currently selling - which, to be honest, is usually driven by publishers anyway - then it's easy to decide to go ahead and self-publish. But I love the printed word, to the extent that I don't think I could do my book justice as a paper copy. On the other hand, I do want people to read my books, so the Ebook is a compromise - it's there for people to read, but the manuscript is still available if a publisher wants to take me on.
What audience is Almost Gone aimed at?
It was never my intention to write for any particular audience, but it immediately became clear when I started, that the characters had created themselves as "youngers" (to use the term in the Conorol world) and I was writing their stories. So, Almost Gone is really a Young Adult novel, but one that can be enjoyed by anyone, including being read to young children, or by people who just enjoy a good story. The YA genre does fit well with ideas of learning about oneself, the need to be connected with one another, and especially how young people seem to be far more receptive to trusting their instincts about what is real, rather than blindly following what they have been told. It actually feels quite natural to inhabit the mind of a narrator much younger than myself. Maybe we all carry a little of our youth and it just needs to be encouraged to show itself.
What is the importance of setting to your books?
In Almost Gone, and the books that will follow it in the trilogy, there is definitely something of the Scottish Borders that flows through the descriptions of the landscape and natural environment. I'm not suggesting the River Tweed is the Big River in the stories, nor that Cold Burn is the burn that runs in a small valley near to my house, but I would be lying if I said they weren't related some way in time and space. I'm a very visual writer (I can imagine the books being turned into movies quite easily) so where I live: the hills, the rivers, forests, wildlife - they really feed into my writing and influence what happens in the stories.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing has this magical ability to pull things out of your mind or the world around you. For me, it's those moments where I think: "Where on earth did that come from?" when looking at something I've just written down, having no idea that the idea or even the character ever existed before.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Being a good dad and a husband, running a music venue in my village, playing cricket quite badly, fixing computers, growing food, cycling around the Borders and, when people want me to, teaching people how to do Bushcraft.
What do you read for pleasure?
A huge mixture of fiction and non-fiction: I usually have three or four "serious" books going at once, plus a load of toilet books(!) that are usually funny or full of facts. At the moment I'm trying my best to get through Ulysses by James Joyce for the third time, am enjoying Elemental by Amanda Curtin, a beautiful evocation of north-east Scottish life, and Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux, who is always entertaining.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I used to write terrible stories involving friends in primary school English classes, but the first real story I wrote was something called "The Cave" when I was 12. It was about a series of chalk cliff caves near to where I lived on the Kent coast, and the murders that took place within. Nice.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the English seaside town of Margate, spent endless summer evenings cycling along coastal paths or exploring hidden places between the backs of buildings, lay on my back during thunderstorms and cleaned teapots in the hotel my parents ran. It was the last place I really called home until I moved to the Scottish Borders in 2010, since when I have been able to ground myself in the beautiful landscape, close communities and the way Borderers seem to have a connection with the land that many others do not. I suppose it's all there somewhere - we have to write from experience, even if we twist it a little to suit the story.
What are you working on next?
I've already written the follow-up to Almost Gone, which is called Other Worlds. That novel is set amongst the Telagim tribe, and runs almost in parallel with Almost Gone, but from a very different perspective. The aim is to publish that book electronically in early 2017, and also start work on the final part of the Conorol Trilogy.
Published 2016-08-29.
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Books by This Author

Other Worlds
You set the price! Words: 52,310. Language: British English. Published: November 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Social Issues, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
Set in a place that may be familiar to many, in a time that could be now, but within a culture untouched by civilisation, the second part of the Conorol Trilogy, Other Worlds, is the story of one family and one community trying to cope with, and resist terrible changes that are tearing at the heart of their culture.
Almost Gone
You set the price! Words: 52,170. Language: English. Published: September 5, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure, Fiction » Adventure » General
UPDATE: All profits from this eBook will go to Survival International Almost Gone is a story about three ordinary people searching for answers in a threatened world. As Caeleb, Merod and Eoran travel their own paths, they discover secrets about themselves, each other and the place in which they live, but can they find a way of stopping what is causing these terrible things to happen?