Book description – An eight-year-old girl and her granpa are on the run…
“When me and Granpa watched James Bond films, he told me not to be scared because people didn’t have guns like that in Scotland. That must’ve been why the robbers used hammers.”
Orphaned Mary lives with her granpa, but after he is mixed up in a robbery at the bookies where he works, they flee to the Isle of Skye. Gradually, Mary realises that her granpa is involved. And the robbers are coming after him–and their money.
Mary’s quirky outlook on life, loss, and her love of all things Elvis, will capture your heart. Full of witty Scots banter, Mary’s the Name will have you reaching for the hankies, first with laughter, then with tears.
Heart-warming and heart-breaking, this darkly comic debut is from a fresh voice set to become Scotland’s answer to Roddy Doyle.
Mary’s the Name was published on January 30th and you can buy your copy here.
My thoughts – When my parcel popped through the door and I opened it and saw not only a book but an Elvis mask, a postcard from the Isle of Skye, a bookies slip and wee bag of sweeties, to say I was intrigued would be an understatement. Having read the blurb I was very excited to read Mary’s the Name and I love reading an authors debut. There’s something very special about being given the chance to read a debut, it’s also very terrifying just incase you don’t like it. There was absolutely no worries here though as I LOVED this book.
Orphan Mary lives with her Granpa and has done since her parents died when she was little. After accompanying her Granpa to his work at the bookies and witnessing a terrible robbery life will never be the same for Mary or her Granpa and Ross Sayers takes us on a roller coaster of emotions in Mary’s the Name.
I totally adored Mary an 8 year old that is full of wit, independent and very clever. Reading about Mary the old saying “that ones been here before” springs to mind. She is such a wonderful character and I praise the author for portraying Mary so realistically and beautifully. Mary is a character you can’t help falling in love with and the relationship between herself and her Granpa is very special, they have a strong bond and you can clearly see that Arthur will do anything for his wee granddaughter. I have to say I did love Arthur as well, although he’s made mistakes and I probably shouldn’t like him so much, there was something about him and I was rooting for the pair of them all the way through the book.
The descriptions through out the book were wonderful and I felt like I was in Portree with Mary and her Granpa, a place I would love to visit some time. Ross Sayers has written a story that sweeps you up and totally draws you in. It had me laughing and it had me crying. It’s a story about friendships, growing up, innocence, violence, theft and so much more. I honestly was blown away by this debut novel, it’s a story that stays with you after you’ve finished and one I could go back to and read again ( and there really isn’t many I can say that about). I definitely highly recommend this book and I’m really looking forward to reading more from Ross Sayers soon (hopefully).
My rating 5/5
I’d like to thank Ross Sayers and Cranachan Publishing for my copy of the book.
I am delighted to have the author of Mary’s the Name, Ross Sayers stop by and take the time to answer a few questions so with out further a do here’s what Ross had to say.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Ross. I’m 24, and was born and raised in Stirling, where I still live. I studied English at the University of Stirling, then did a Masters in Creative Writing. I’ve recently started as a civil servant in Glasgow.
Mary’s The Name is a wonderful and heart breaking story, was it inspired by any real life events?
Thank you! While there are some real-life people and plenty of real-life locations in the book, I came up with this story entirely off the top of my head!
How much research did you have to do for Mary’s The Name?
My main source of research was a trip I took to Portree in Skye for a few days. This allowed me to get a real sense of the place and the people who lived there. I gained so many little details from this trip which would have been impossible otherwise. Sure, Google Maps is handy for remembering street names, but it’s no substitute for actually going. I hope I’ve done Portree justice!
I absolutely adored Mary who’s a huge Elvis fan, are you a fan and what type of music could we find on your playlist?
I am a fan! Not to the level Mary and her Granpa are though, but (and I’m sure Mary would agree) you don’t really get many bad Elvis songs! While writing ‘Mary’s the Name’, I listened to a lot of Elvis, as well as Queen. Kings and Queens are a running theme in the book, and I’d recommend Elvis ‘the King’ and Queen as companion music. (Especially ‘You’re My Best Friend’ by Queen.)
My son has changed his career path over the years, from growing up to be a shark, gremlin to now wanting to play rugby for Scotland (he’s 14). You studied English and went on to do a Masters in Creative Writing, is writing something you’ve always wanted to do since you were little?
I hope he wanted to be the good, Gizmo-type of Gremlin! It has! I’ve never written out a ‘bucket list’, but I always knew ‘Get a book published’ would’ve been at number one. I wrote a lot of daft, never-ending stories in primary school, but I lost interest during high school. It wasn’t until I took creative writing modules during university that I got the taste for it again. English Studies at Stirling has the option of undertaking a creative writing dissertation, which I jumped at the chance to do (I actually did poetry for that one, don’t know how I passed!). Then during my Masters I really got the feel for fiction and Mary Sutherland was born!
Is there any particular authors who have inspired you over the years?
When I was very young, the Australian short story writer Paul Jennings was my hero. I was floored by his imagination. Same goes for Terry Pratchett. More recently, the works of James Kelman and Patrick deWitt have had me wanting to grab my pen and get to work!
From the back of the book I quote “Heart-warming and heart-breaking, this darkly comic debut is from a fresh voice set to become Scotland’s answer to Roddy Doyle” How does that make you feel?
I was overwhelmed the first time I read it. Cranachan have shown great faith in me and their comparison to Roddy Doyle is more than I could have hoped for.
And lastly, are you able to tell us what we can expect from you in the future?
‘I’m working on novel number two! I’m just piecing the story together at the moment, but it’s likely to feature my hometown of Stirling again, and schoolboys getting mixed up in trouble when they pull a sickie!’
Huge thanks to Ross for answering my questions and hopefully it wont be too long until book number two is ready.
About Ross Sayers.
Ross studied English in his hometown of Stirling. Not content with the one graduation, he completed a Masters in Creative Writing the following year. His stories and poems have featured in magazines such as Octavius and Quotidian. Ross also tried his hand at acting in the university’s Drama Society, which gave him valuable life experience at being an extra with no lines.
One of his short stories, Dancin’, was used on West College Scotland’s Higher English course. He only found out after a student tweeted him requesting a copy of the story so she could finish her essay.
Ross mainly reads contemporary and literary fiction, and loves it when a writer remembers to include an interesting plot. He heartily endorses not finishing books which bore you.
While researching Mary’s the Name in Portree, gift shop employees excitedly mistook him for Daniel Radcliffe; Ross had to burst their bubble. But at a football match in London, he agreed to have his photo taken with a wee boy, who believed he was Harry Potter, to save any tears or tantrums.