What about Philip?

Not surprisingly, I’ve used my website and this blog as a way of promoting my books – using positive reviews and reader feedback, the announcement of prizes and nominations, and news of publishing deals at home and abroad, to present me and my work in a favourable light. Bad reviews, negative comments and professional disappointments don’t make it past the censor (i.e. me).

Then I received an email from a reader which took issue with a particular aspect of my novel, Flip, and did so with such articulacy, intelligence and critical insight that I feel it’s time to restore the balance a little. So, here’s her message in full:

Dear Martyn Bedford,

I am far too old to be reading Young Adult books, but I quite enjoyed your book Flip because it was very well-written … except that as I reached the last page I realized we were never going to meet Flip.

This gave the whole book a very strange, out-of-balance feel. We spent most of the book having a detailed view of his family, home, girlfriends, friends etc. but only through the eyes of Alex, who despised them, trashed the various areas of Flip’s life and then found his way home. Because it was well-written, it was easy to identify with Alex’s problems finding himself in someone else’s life, but somewhere in the background was the guy we never met, having a real horror trip, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers style, and we never find out what happens to him after he comes back, to find that his parents don’t like him anymore, his girlfriend is gone, his dog has died &c.

Perhaps it didn’t fit into the structure of the book, but would it be possible to write a stand-alone short story from Flip’s point of view and put it on your website? I don’t think I’m the only person who wonders what happened.

The other reason I thought the book might have this strange ‘missing’ feel, was maybe because, although the other characters all seem more or less solid and real, possibly Flip was never a complete character to you, more a collection of characteristics that Alex didn’t like. That would be very odd to have a character whose name was the book’s title but nevertheless did not really exist even for the author. I suppose it would also make writing a small follow-up story out of the question.

Anyway, I will look out for your next book, and look up some of your adult books.

With best wishes,

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