I’ve heard nothing but good things about this debut novel, so today I’m delighted to share a spotlight post of The Vanishing of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander. Thank you to Tracy Fenton and Embla Books for giving me the opportunity to talk about this gorgeous sounding book today. I can’t wait to read it!
About the book:
An uplifting and page-turning mystery by Neil Alexander.
Meet Margaret Small: 75, plain spoken and a Cilla Black super fan. Shortly after the death of her idol, Margaret begins receiving sums of money in the post, signed simply ‘C’.
She is convinced it must be Cilla, but how can it be? To solve the mystery of her benefactor Margaret must go back in her memories almost 70 years, to the time when she was ‘vanished’ to a long-stay institution for children with learning disabilities.
An absorbing and page-turning mystery with a dual timeline, The Vanishing of Margaret Small takes readers into a fascinating past, and introduces an unforgettable literary heroine.
About the author:
Neil is a graduate of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, taught by Esther Freud and Tim Lott.
His first book, The Vanishing Of Margaret Small (Embla Books, publishing Oct 2022) tells the story of 75 year-old Margaret. After the death of her idol Cilla Black, she begins receiving sums of money in the post from an unknown sender who simply signs-off as ‘C’. Margaret is convinced they are somehow being sent from Cilla! To solve the mystery, she must go back in her memories almost 70 years, to the time when she was ‘vanished’ to a long-stay institution for children with learning disabilities.
Much of the inspiration for Neil’s first book came directly from the voices of people with a learning disability, and the incredibly moving first person accounts of living in long stay institutions, which he heard while working for Mencap. As the charity’s Artist Liaison Manager, he was instrumental in bringing BBC Radio 2 presenter, Jo Whiley, on board as a brand ambassador (Jo’s older sister, Frances, is disabled). Together, with a small team, they created Little Noise Sessions, an annual series of acoustic gigs held at the Union Chapel, Islington (and later St John at Hackney church), to raise money for the charity. During the festival’s hugely successful 8-year run, Neil worked very closely with Jo to secure acts such as Coldplay, The Killers, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Noel Gallagher and Florence and the Machine.
Neil began his career working in health journalism and occasionally still writes for newspapers and magazines. He has also had poems published in Magma, The Interpreter’s House and Southbank Poetry, and in 2013 his pamphlet 9 Blows to the Head was shortlisted for the Pighog Poetry Prize. He is a regular performer at LGBT literary salon Polari at London’s Royal Festival Hall.
Neil currently teaches English at a Secondary School in South East London and is working on his second novel, publishing in 2023 by Embla Books.
The Vanishing of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander is available to purchase now:
The Vanishing of Margaret Small sounds exactly like the kind of book I love to read and I’m itching to start it. Available now!