A new book by local author Jasper Gibson will be published tomorrow. “The Octopus Man” is partly set in Crowborough, and also features places in and around the Ashdown Forest. Jasper, 45, who lives near Groombridge in Motts Hill (best known for its scarecrow trail).
It is about Tom – a 40 year-old man living on benefits who suffers from schizophrenia. The character Tom is inspired by Jasper’s cousin Ed, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and his struggles with medication and being understood. The story is about what it is like to hear voices and how other people’s opinions are considered more valuable than your own. Jasper explained that in other cultures, people who hear voices, aren’t immediately labelled as mad by society.
The book has already picked-up some good support from Douglas Stuart, the Booker Prize Winner, and singer-songwriter Lily Allen.
Local people will recognise many local places and scenes. Waitrose and Morrisons feature in the book, as well as Crowborough High Street. Perceptive residents will spot that the apartment blocks where Tom lives is invented. Having driven down London Road many times whilst writing the book, Jasper wondered what was going to be built next to the Forest Fold Baptist Church. Jasper decided his protagonist would live in a ground floor flat on land where Crowborough’s new burial ground is.
Jasper’s family history in the area goes back to his grandparents, who lived in Lye Green.
Jasper has lived a colourful life. He is the co-founder of thepoke.co.uk, the UK’s largest comedy site, and has also written for magazines and television.
His last project for TV was a chat show hosted by Vladimir Putin. If you didn’t see it, Jasper wouldn’t be too surprised, as after commissioning the format the BBC got cold feet and decided to transmit the pilot in the early hours of the morning in May 2019.
How’d they get the Russian leader to host a chat show you’ll be thinking? The innovative format created by Jasper, along with Joel Veitch and Simon Whalley, features a 3D CGI caricature of Putin interviewing his real life guests in front of an audience.
Jasper started writing in 2011 and his first novel “A Bright Moon for Fools” draws on his experience of teaching English and working on a cacao plantation in Venezuela.
Jasper is offering to do Zoom Q&As with local book clubs and hopes to be able to do a real life “Meet the Author” event in Crowborough after the virus.