Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Degrees of Losing by Shan Purcell
Release Date:17th September 2014
Publisher: Publish Nation
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to be coordinating the book tour for Degrees of Losing by Shan Purcell. I hope you'll follow the progress of the tour and enter the fantastic giveaway were you could win a signed copy of the book. You can catch my review of the book in tomorrow's post but right now I have a fantastic guest post from the author herself! Firstly, lets find out a little about what the book is about. 

Book Blurb

What would life be like if you could recall every detail of your entire life? 

Casey has hyperthymesia, a rare condition which means that she has perfect recollection of her past, a burden which imprisons her in her memories. There is no joy in the present, no thought of the future; only the inescapable past playing constantly in her mind. 

Then one day she meets Joe, a man without a past. Or is he? 

Together they find a present, which has the potential to save them both but also forces them to confront a future that challenges their love of life and each other. 

Degrees of Losing is a story about love and loss, memory and time, and what it means to be somebody.

Guest Post

What led me to write this story?

I had wanted to write a book for a long time and had played around with different ideas but none of them ever seemed to fit quite right. I was looking around the internet one day and came across the case of Philip Staufen, a man who woke up in a Canadian hospital with amnesia. Despite worldwide media coverage, his identify couldn't be ascertained. After marrying his lawyer's daughter, he was accused of being a porn star and then of stealing a passport, before escaping to Portugal. Several years later, it was finally revealed that it had been a hoax, that he never had amnesia. His response was nonchalant: "I came from Romania, a place I loathe. I'd rather be a fake nobody than the real me. At first I tried not to be anyone at all. Then I tried to become someone - and then someone better.”

The case to me was fascinating and with my background in psychology (I studied psychology at university for five years), it got me thinking about the link between memory and identity. If you lose your memories, then you don't exist anymore, you have been replaced by another you. But what about the converse? What about someone who had too many memories? I came across another quote: “A healthy memory is not just remembering the important stuff; it's being able to forget the rest.”
I did a google search and found the condition of hyperthymesia, which involves having a perfectly intact autobiographical memory. I watched documentaries on people who have this extremely rare condition. Many find it an enormous gift but I was particularly fascinated by an American case, Jill Price, who had found it very difficult to deal with over the years. And then slowly, I created in my mind the character of Casey Mitchell, a tortured soul, burdened by her memories. I thought about what implications this would have for her in her day to day life... difficulties concentrating, feeling different to others, a need for escapism, avoiding relationships. I suddenly knew that I had a character I could write about. I just needed a story, a love story.


And so came along Joe in my mind, a mixture of  the obtuseness of Philip Staufen, the looks of Nicholas Cage and charming arrogance of a guy I dated for a while many years ago. I wanted him to be the hero and the villain all at the same time, to have the potential to save Casey or to destroy her.
Although I am Australian, I came to Manchester in England in 2002 and so that is exactly when and where the book is set, because I was in my early 20s at the time so I knew the city and the bars well, which made it easier to write about and also because social media is so big these days. It would have played a major part in this story if it had been set in 2014 and I wanted to avoid that.


I planned out the whole book except for the last chapter and began writing. I wasn't sure how it should end but figured that I would know once I got there. When I had finished and done two rounds of editing, it felt like there was only one way for the story to conclude and I wrote the last chapter in one day. Although it had been a lifelong dream to write a book, it was one that I didn't feel I would ever actually achieve and that it would in fact become one of my biggest regrets. I am so pleased with Degrees of Losing and I hope that people enjoy reading it.

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About Shan Purcell

Shan Purcell was born in Sydney, and raised in Perth, Western Australia from the age of one. She attended St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School, before studying Psychology at the University of Western Australia.
Shan moved to North West of the UK in 2002.  She completed a Masters degree in Marketing at the University of Salford in 2005 and has been working in marketing in the education sector since then. Shan, 37, now lives in Hale in Greater Manchester with her partner and her dog, Gizmo.  


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