Caroline Gilfillan Writer

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Hello. I’m a novelist and poet, living in the Lake District after long spells in North Norfolk and London. I’ve recently published The Terrace and The Peasmash Players, two murder mystery novels featuring Rags Whistledown, a funky but flawed forty-something who moves to Norfolk after being driven out of London by a combination of misfortune and debt.

During the long months of the pandemic, I’ve been enjoying writing poetry, and am pleased to say that my poems have been published recently in Reflected Light and Bloody Amazing, two brilliant anthologies. The first responds to works of art and the second is packed with powerful poems about menstruation and the menopause. Bring it on!

Here’s my poem about The Emperor Concerto, which I often listened to as a teenager. Its energy and tenderness swept me away after a tedious afternoon of Maths and Latin.

The Emperor Concerto

After Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto, ‘The Emperor’

The needle clicks, the speaker splutters, and chords

burst out of the radiogram, splashing on to the carpet,

the ashtray of Woodbine butts, the television jaunty

on splayed legs, my green school skirt and falling down socks.

I let myself be swept on to the sofa, rinsed by the music

of the composer who strode round Vienna half-pissed,

scratching at the lice under his wig, dashing to the privy

in between inking storm clouds and joy on to paper.  

With a groan I let my head fall back and float, my hair

a diadem streaming around my head, until I am washed up

on the red cushions when the adagio empties the ocean of

all but crystalline drops, each one tender as the kitten face

of a viola. The cat yawns, offering her dusty belly to the sun.

I also write literary fiction; my short stories have appeared in Mslexia and The London Magazine, and have won national short story awards. I’m currently working on a World War 2 novel featuring a badly behaved woman left in London on her own when her husband joins the army and her daughter is evacuated. It has a more literary flavour than my North Norfolk novels, but is similar in that it features a powerful, lovable but flawed female protagonist.

Launch of The Terrace

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Biography

Caroline Gilfillan was brought up in a sleepy Sussex town and as soon as possible escaped to Paris, where she lived in a garret close to the Louvre. She spent her young adult years in East London writing, playing drums and singing in soulful bands. In between her creative projects she worked in publishing and education. She gained an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and was was selected for the Norfolk Escalator scheme for fiction writers, and awarded Arts Council England funding. She’s also a singer/songwriter, performing solo and in the semi-acoustic duo Further to Fly, with Debs Williams.