View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news

Book Club: A Column of Smoke

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To celebrate the publication of my novel ‘A Column of Smoke‘ I’m going to dedicate some posts to book club style questions. Please ask more questions and join in the discussion under each post. The first one is perhaps the most obvious:

How did you come up with the plot?

While I was doing my PhD at Rothamsted Research a friend saw me reading The Girl at the Lion D’Or by Sebastian Falkes. He pointed out that ‘The Girl at’ was a common book title but ‘The Girl at Rothamsted Research’ doesn’t have the same ring about it. That set me thinking about what could happen at somewhere like Rothamsted to make a sufficiently exciting plot, and fraud was an obvious answer.

It didn’t come to me in a single moment of inspiration though, and throughout the writing I came up with new ideas that were needed for the plot.

I decided on Sally’s relationship with Paul while I was still planning the story, and Vangelis’ character was also easy to create because I knew he would be the one to initiate the deception. I decided on extra characters, such as her housemates, whenever the plot needed them. The same is true of sub plots, such as Darren’s relationship with Mel – I just saw where the characters were going.

‘The Girl at Rothamsted Research’ still doesn’t have a good ring to it though, and choosing the title was the hardest part of writing the book. The title is an image taken from Sally’s views of the farmhouse as the fire is being put out.

Author: Rebecca Nesbit

I am author of a popular science book 'Is that Fish in your Tomato?' exploring the fact and fiction of GM crops. In my work and leisure so far, I have trained bees to detect explosives, used a radar to study butterflies for my PhD, written a novel, taken the train from London to China, organised Biology Week, sold science jewellery on Etsy, and traveled to four continents with Nobel Laureates. Best off all, I've made lots of friends whose support I very much appreciate. Thank you! Please visit my website:

One thought on “Book Club: A Column of Smoke

  1. Pingback: Does your novel give a balanced view of GM? | View from the fence

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