Scarborough author Kate Evans is celebrating an excellent start to 2015 following the successful publication of her first novel.
Her book, The Art of the Imperfect, is a crime novel set in Scarborough which she has been writing on and off for the best part of a decade. It is the first of a trilogy of fiction books, all set in Scarborough, and has as its plot the investigation of a brutal murder in the town.
“I live in Scarborough and I love Scarborough, so it was the obvious place for me to set the novel,” says Kate.
“I hope my love of Scarborough comes through. I’ve tried to respect the character of the town and not tried to create either a picture of a crime-ridden, crumbling resort or a holiday brochure.
“Apart from one or two little things to help with the narrative, I haven’t altered anything in Scarborough to fit the novel so people will recognise a lot, particularly around the South Cliff area and the Spa.”
Kate uses Scarborough – located as it is on the edge of the country – to symbolise one of the key themes that runs through the novel, marginalisation.
“One of the three main characters is a black detective, who also happens to be homosexual. So here we have this police officer, battling to solve the murder and at the same time facing up to the baggage that comes with belonging to not one, but two minority groups,” Kate adds.
“The novel also features many characters who for one reason or another are living on the edge and I felt that Scarborough lent itself to that.”
Topics and themes for the novel have been drawn to some extent from Kate’s own experiences. She spent two years living in a deprived area of Washington DC, working and volunteering on projects with poor black communities. Here she saw marginalisation from both sides, working with a black community on the edge of mainstream America, but also as she herself was one of very few white people in a predominantly black neighbourhood.
In the late 1990s she worked on projects in Marseille with marginalised Bosnian refugee, Algerian, Gypsy, and Senegalise communities, but again felt marginalised herself due to an inability to speak the language fluently enough to properly fit in.
The novel touches on prejudice, marginalisation, psychotherapy, mental illness and depression but is ultimately a celebration of what makes each of us unique. Kate says a long-standing love of crime novels and the ease with which the genre makes the exploration of issues accessible, drew her to choose the format.
“A crime novel is really a quest; there's a problem to be solved and people (characters and readers) set off to find what the answer is,” she says. “At the end of it I am interested in human relationships, in why people become marginalised and, here, what pushes ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”
The Art of the Imperfect is available now via amazon.co.uk