Ayrshire AUTHOR Graeme Macrae Burnet’s work has been Man Booker Prize shortlisted but the writer is now working on his fourth novel which follows a female narrator and a radical psychotherapist set in 1960s London.

Graeme said: “I’m hopefully at the end of the writing process. I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

“For me it’s impossible to feel one hundred per cent happy with something I’ve written. I’m getting there, but I don’t think there’s any such thing as the perfect book.”

Born in Kilmarnock, Graeme believes Ayrshire and Scotland in general to have influenced his writing. He believes setting to be the most important feature in his novels.

Graeme said: “The main character of my novels is the setting. Setting is absolutely fundamental to a novel. I think characters in the book interact with the place that they come from. If they were in a different setting, they would be different people. My approach to writing is that I start with a place then develop the story around that.

“I think Kilmarnock has influenced me in an unconscious way. When you travel, you understand better where you came from. Even though Kilmarnock is a small, ordinary town, it influences a lot of things I write about and brings out my feelings about growing up there.

“When I was a teen the first thing I wanted to do was escape somewhere more exciting, which is natural. But when you do go elsewhere, you view it differently.

“I spent a year living in Portugal and I felt it was similar to Scotland because it’s a small country dominated by a larger neighbour – Spain – so I observed nationalism in the Portuguese people which made me reflect on Scottish nationalism. It made me see how people’s minds work in relation to these kinds of things.”

The author says he would not rule out setting a future book in his hometown.

“Never say never. In some ways I see the attraction of setting a novel in a small town like Kilmarnock where people know each other. I can imagine writing something fairly autobiographical about growing up in Kilmarnock and re-visiting the place.”

At the time of interview, Graeme was due to speak at AyeWrite Festival. Unfortunately the event was cancelled, but Graeme notes the importance of the Festival for young Creatives.

Graeme said: “Even though there are lots of festivals, there are a very small percentage of debut novelists actually invited to speak. It’s a great opportunity to present work to an audience. People won’t know your book exists unless you promote it.

“Luckily for me I enjoy doing events. I’m not a veteran author but it is nice to be as encouraging as you can towards people starting out who are a couple of steps behind you. I enjoy talking about my work and getting questions from the audience. My books are open for interpretation.”