PART OF THE The Gift of Reading ISSUE

‘Off the top of my head, would have loved to have met both John Candy and Robin Williams and gave them both a big cuddle.’

Ross Sayers is one of Scotland’s rising stars in YA fiction, writing funny, touching novels that get under the skin of being a teenager in Scotland in the 21st century. We caught up with him to talk about his new book, Daisy on the Outer Line.


Daisy on the Outer Line
By Ross Sayers
Published by Cranachan Books


Congratulations on the publication of your latest YA novel, Daisy on the Outer Line. Could you tell us a little bit about what to expect from the book?

Thank you! It’s about a nineteen year old woman named Daisy, who, after making a bit of a scene at both her stepdad’s funeral AND Christmas night out, falls asleep on the Glasgow subway. When she wakes up, not only has she travelled back in time 16 days, she also looks like another person. She only knows one thing: she has to save someone’s life to get back to the right timeline…


This is your third YA novel now, how has the writing and publishing experience changed from when you released your debut, Mary’s The Name? Do you feel like you know what to expect from the process now? Or is it still full of surprises?

Sadly, the writing process never seems to get any easier. Always a bit of a slog. But at least now I have a bit more confidence that people actually might want to read what I’m writing, whereas before I was published, it was really just me and my mum reading my work. Similarly, my books seem to get stocked a few more places these days, which is really heartening and makes the 2-3 year process behind writing the book a little easier.


What draws you to write about the trials and tribulations of young people?

I suppose because I still feel like one…despite creeping closer and closer to [AGE REDACTED]. Anyway, I believe the children are the future (I think I came up with that), so they deserve good books written specifically for them! It’s tough, mind you, as once kids get to 15, 16 etc, they’re old enough to read adult books, so it’s your job as a YA author to convince them that your books are relevant and adult enough to stick with YA. (Remember when you were young, you didn’t want to watch 15 rated films when you were 15, you wanted to watch 18 rated films!)


You like to use the Scots language in your writing. Why is this important to you?

Part of it is just selfishness. There are not many new Scots YA books and there definitely aren’t many written in Scots, so I like to think I’ve created a bit of a niche for myself. (The nichiest niche in existence, too niche you might argue). But more than that, I like to think young Scottish kids will read these books and see that they’re language isn’t something to hide away. If you speak it with your pals, why do you need to bury it when speaking at your school, or your work? Speak and write in Scots if you fancy, or don’t, but just know that you’ve got the option.


You’re becoming a bit of a superstar online with some interesting Twitter marketing ploys. What is it about the medium that you enjoy?

I think a lot of writers would argue that it’s the immediacy of Twitter that draws us to it. If I’m writing a novel, and I write a joke, which I think is funny, it could be 3 years before anyone will read it. By that point, I’ll think it’s terrible. AND it’s very unlikely anyone will specifically say to me, ‘Hey Ross, that joke on p 45, I laughed at that’. Compare that to Twitter, where if I think of a joke, within a minute I can post it and receive those little notifications which give me a dopamine hit. 80,000 words with years to wait until anyone reads it, or 280 characters and people read it immediately. You can see the appeal…


Our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, even got involved! That must’ve been quite the surreal moment.

Aye, I was eating my tea one night and my notifications went a bit daft. She directed her followers to vote for Govan in the World Cup of Glasgow Subway Stops I set up. It actually still lost out to the eventual winner Kelvinbridge, so maybe her powers are waning… I believe my publisher Cranachan has sent her a copy of the new book so FM, if you’re reading this, check your post!


So, in Daisy and the Outer Line, Daisy finds herself travelling back in time. It’s something we all fantasise about from time to time. Do you have moments in history you’d like to travel back to witness? Anyone from the past you’d like to meet?

Hmm, good question. I think one of Bruce Springsteen’s early gigs in the UK would’ve been incredible. Or even just going back to the 90s and having a night out sans social media. Off the top of my head, would have loved to have met both John Candy and Robin Williams and gave them both a big cuddle.


Christmas is coming soon. Are their any books you fancy seeing in your stocking?

(Last plug, but a quick reminder that Daisy on the Outer Line is set at Christmas and I am counting it as a Christmas Book™. ) I’m quite bad for just buying the books that I want so I quite like a surprise, maybe something that I wouldn’t usually read. Like a bestseller or something.


And what has been your favourite read of 2020?

Very tough question! I’m going to cheat and say Toffee by Sarah Crossan and When the Dead Come Calling by Helen Sedgwick and The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta and Jack’s Well by Alan McClure and Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes (and I’m also really enjoying The Cauldron of Life by Caroline Logan, which I’m halfway through).


Daisy on the Outer Line by Ross Sayers is published by Cranachan Books, priced £8.99.

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