The Tale Of Findo Gask
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Award winning 1st novel
Winner of the UK’s Undiscovered Authors General Fiction Prize for 2005:
The story of an extraordinary thief who will capture your heart as he strives to make sure an uncaring world never forgets his name.
“…a close look at the feral side of mankind… yet… a curiously tender work.”
From stealing cigarettes to an armed raid on a security firm… from saving drowning dogs to snatching an opera diva’s tiara, Findo Gask tells the story of a rollercoaster life in the underbelly of modern Britain.
It’s also the story of a lonely boy trying to find love and earn respect from the few people that he does trust.
Findo Gask is born into poverty. His mother is a drug addict and he grows up surrounded by the worst kind of underworld lowlifes. But Findo is someone special and determined to make sure his name isn’t forgotten.
Growing up as an unregistered child with no official identity, Findo learns early on how to keep his head down, slip in and out of places unobserved, and run from trouble – perfect talents for a thief.
Initially, Findo steals to survive but – as he gets older and his exploits more audacious – theft becomes a form of self-expression, a way of asserting his identity and shouting out his name to anyone who will listen… including Abby McGee, the girl who steals his heart.
“a brilliant work of observation of the human condition in its most tried and trying circumstances” – Katherine Ashe, Goodreads Review.
The Tale Of Findo Gask is a story about a boy with no official identity but a burning desire to prove himself; someone who does what others would love to do if they had no morals… or weren’t frightened of getting caught.
Who is Findo Gask?
“Born in a ditch, raised in slums and educated by the underworld, Findo Gask’s life was forged by mischance. An unwanted brat from a pointless alliance, he was the youngest of seven children by various fathers. He entered the world as a runt: small and scrawny but slippy with it.
“Given the circumstances, his likely prospects were poverty or petty lawlessness – obscurity either way.
“From childhood onwards – unfettered by instruction – he made his own choices and fixed his own rules. Only the reach of his imagination defined his limits and Findo Gask was never a dull boy…”
The starting point for this novel was a roadsign in Scotland, pointing to a small village called Findo Gask.
I saw the sign while driving up to the Highlands in about 2001. I loved the name, it sounded Dickensian, and I started wondering who Findo Gask might be – and what kind of a person he was.
My first notes for the book were written sitting on a clifftop in Orkney. I knew Findo was a character from the shadier side of society and to begin with I toyed with the idea of writing a play – which would have been called The Trial of Findo Gask.
I envisaged a courtroom, with Findo on trial and various witnesses speaking on behalf of prosecution and defence. But while I knew from the beginning that Findo was a law-breaker, I wasn’t sure that he was criminal in his intent. I wondered about a situation where someone has had such a raw deal from society that it’s questionable why they should obey the laws that bind most of us.
And, of course, there’s the question of whether people obey the law because they believe they should, or because they are frightened of the consequences of getting caught if they break it.
From those roots emerged the character of Findo Gask. Yes he breaks the law but there’s no malice about it. For Findo, it’s firstly about survival and later about his own sense of identity.
The book was completed in 2005 and I entered it into a new UK competition called Undiscovered Authors. To my delight and amazement, Findo was chosen as the national winner by a panel made up of literary agents and others from the publishing world.
Soon after I had my first publishing contract and Findo came out in paperback in October 2006. The Kindle edition was published in January 2012.
Book length: approx 432 pages/ 170,000 words
Read or buy
To read the first five chapters of Findo, click on the link: Findo extract