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Market Deeping author to sign copies of debut novel The Naseby Horses at Walkers in Stamford

An author who was long-listed for an international prize has spoken of the five-year journey getting his debut novel from his imagination to the book shop shelves.

Dominic Brownlow, who lives in Market Deeping, said the process of publishing The Naseby Horses had been both “traumatic and enjoyable”.

Set in an eerie village in the Fens, it tells the possibly supernatural story of a 17-year-old boy with epilepsy who is trying to find his missing sister.

Dominic Brownlow, author of The Naseby Horses
Dominic Brownlow, author of The Naseby Horses

The father-of-two told the Mercury he had chosen an independent publisher after agencies told him he would likely have to change his story to appeal to the mainstream ‘Big Five’.

“Most said they liked it but couldn’t place it,” said Dominic. “It has elements of the supernatural but it’s not a horror - it can’t be pigeonholed like that.

“If it had gone to a major publisher they perhaps would have straightened the story out a bit. I’m happy with the way it’s worked out now. It’s different from everything else and that’s the appeal.”

Dominic describes The Naseby Horses - named after a curse that may or may not have something to do with the girl's disappearance - as a book primarily about epilepsy, a condition of which he had no prior knowledge.

“I did hundreds of hours of research into it,” he said. “The main protagonist, Simon, suffers with chronic seizures and I began thinking ‘what if they aren’t just an electrical fault in the brain but a way of accessing something slightly metaphysical?’”

A former music manager who owned a small record label, Dominic counts Iain Banks and Stephen King among his early influences.

“I read quite a lot but was never one of those bookish children,” he said. “But I enjoyed reading, especially that dark and gothic stuff.”

After leaving the music industry around six years ago, he became a house husband which gave him the opportunity to fulfil his writing dreams.

“I became very focused on the idea of doing it,” he said. “I would drop the kids off at school and then work solidly until 3pm every afternoon. That’s how it started.”

He later booked two 10-day stints at a cottage in Norfolk and bashed out the majority of the novel in this time, aided by coffee and the occasional bottle of red wine.

The Naseby Horses, by Dominic Brownlow
The Naseby Horses, by Dominic Brownlow

“I had these mad stints of not leaving the house which actually put me in the right frame of mind,” said Dominic, who grew up on a farm in Peakirk.

“It may be a cliche but it was sometimes as though Simon was writing it for me. I loved the process though. It’s as traumatic as it is enjoyable!”

Dominic was long-listed for the Bath Novel Awards, which spotlight the best new international writers, after sending them the first chapter of his book.

So far around 500 copies of the book have been sold through the independent publisher, Louise Walters Books, across several print runs.

He has done a number of signings and plans to go on a promotional tour in June. Before that he will be signing limited edition copies of the novel at Walkers book shop in Stamford on Saturday, February 22, at 11am.

“It’s not an easy read but the reviews so far have been very positive,” he said. “I think you can enjoy it without necessarily getting it. These are the types of books I grew up reading.”

Dominic added: “It might sound quite indulgent but it was written purposefully to be read twice. The people who have done this have said that the second reading is quite eye-opening! It has been described as quite a hypnotic novel.”

People who grew up in the area might recognise some of the details included in the book, although Dominic remained tight-lipped about exact locations that provided inspiration.

“People will just have to read it and see what they think!” he said.

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