Cornwall-based writer and journalist, Nicola K. Smith launches her new book, drawing inspiration from Falmouth and the dynamics between students and local residents.
Cornwall-based writer and journalist, Nicola K. Smith is preparing for the November launch of her debut novel, A Degree of Uncertainty, which is set in a fictional town in West Cornwall. Pre-orders are mounting, prior to the book’s launch.
The story tells of a community divided by a rapidly growing university, pitting residents, students and businesses against each other, and spawning some unlikely alliances.
“The story and its characters are purely fictional, but I have drawn inspiration from living in Falmouth, and watching the shift in dynamics as the University has grown,” said Nicola. “As with many things in life, there are pros and cons, but its expansion has certainly changed the face of the town and divided opinion.”
Nicola, who contributes to titles including The Times, Guardian, BBC, Coast and Cornwall Today, says she has relished writing her first novel and believes it is a book that will appeal to a wide range of people, particularly those who have visited Falmouth and love Cornwall. “I hope it will entertain and engage readers, and perhaps provoke further debate…”
Central to the plot of A Degree of Uncertainty is Dawn Goldberg, the ruthlessly ambitious Vice Chancellor of Poltowan University who wants to lift the cap on student numbers, increasing intake by a further three thousand students. She goes head-to-head with Harry Manchester, a businessman who vows to protect his beloved community and save the town from being overrun by too many students and mercenary landlords.
The reasons for Dawn Goldberg’s desperate attempts to expand student numbers start to reveal themselves as her back story emerges, while Harry Manchester’s cause is further complicated by his estranged wife, new girlfriend, and mounting pressure on his business.
“While Poltowan is situated slightly further west than Falmouth, it is a town of similar size, facing many comparable challenges. In fact, some of the seeds of my ideas came from the Falmouth Packet, not least the ‘Letters’ page, which arguably serves as a barometer of public opinion for the town’s residents.”
Nicola enlisted the help of award-winning second year Falmouth University illustration student, Josie Staveley-Taylor to design the cover. Josie came second in the Adult Cover Fiction category in the Penguin Random House Student Design Award 2019 and was a perfect fit.
“Josie is a very talented young illustrator and a real pleasure to work with. She brought to life my woolly brief with great creativity and I am really pleased with the results. It was lovely to work with a local student, particularly given the book’s subject matter.
“I really hope people of all ages, far and wide, will enjoy the book, and perhaps give it as a gift to friends and family who love Cornwall,” said Nicola. “If it sells well there might even be a sequel!”
A Degree of Uncertainty will be launched in November 2019. Copies can now be ordered for £6.99 (plus p+p) at www.nicolaksmith.com or will be available from Waterstones in Truro and the Falmouth Bookseller.