Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Weekend Pass - Paul Cavanagh - Publication Day review & guest post


Weekend Pass is an absorbing story about addiction and the ripple effect that it has on friends and family of the addict.

Tasha has first hand experience of addiction, as her mother is an alcoholic, but Tasha is dealing with her own addiction and she's on her first visit home from the rehabilitation unit when we initially meet her. It soon becomes clear that she's had a lot to deal with recently and a potentially life threatening event has caused her to have to face up to some very hard truths. It's not just Tasha who has to come clean and  confront her demons though, there are people close to her that have issues of their own that need addressing.

What makes this book such an intense read is the fact that it's set over three days. In this time we learn about the events that led to Tasha being admitted into rehab, as well as the devastating repercussions it has on her and her family.

Despite being a relatively short book, Paul Cavanagh packs a lot into the pages which meant that I raced through it in an afternoon. The characters came across so well that it could easily have read as being a real life account of someone's journey through addiction. Either the author has drawn on first hand experience or he has done a lot of thorough research to write such a feasible story. As a result of this I was totally invested in the characters and was crossing my fingers for a positive conclusion to this hard hitting story.

Weekend Pass won't be a book for everyone, due to the potential triggers, but I found it to be a deftly written, emotional and thought provoking read. Don't be fooled into thinking that it will be a depressing novel as it's not - it's a raw, candid and even hopeful insight into addiction that makes for compelling reading. This was my first trip out with Paul Cavanagh and I will definitely be seeking out his others books now as a result.

I'm delighted to be joined by Paul today, who has very kindly taken some time out of his busy publication day schedule to chat about his path to publication.

Welcome to The Hippo Paul and Happy Publication Day! Thank you for stopping by on what must be a very busy and exciting day for you! Shall we start with an introduction?

Photo courtesy of Paul Cavanagh

I’m a novelist who’s best known for being crowned the world’s first Lit Idol at the London Book Fair several years ago. The competition attracted almost 1500 unpublished writers from across the globe. All five finalists were Londoners – but with a twist. You see, I don’t live in the UK. I live in another London, in Canada. That’s why I later adopted the moniker Not That London Writer.

Lit Idol brought me a lot of international media attention. It also got me a publishing deal with HarperCollins in Canada before I’d finished writing the manuscript of my debut novel, After Helen, a story about a history teacher struggling to resolve his feelings towards his larger-than-life late wife, Helen, in order to salvage his relationship with their daughter. The book went on to garner great reviews in Canada, the US, and the British Isles.


                              Unlikely paths to publication

Not long after I won Lit Idol and After Helen was published, I was invited back to the Humber School for Writers in Toronto to talk about my path to publication. One of the other authors on the panel was Vincent Lam, an emergency physician whose debut collection of short stories would go on to win Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize later that year. Vincent got published after pitching his manuscript to Margaret Atwood on an Arctic cruise on which she was a guest speaker and he was the ship’s doctor.


Humber’s Artistic Director later joked that Vincent and I were probably the worst people he could have invited to speak to a room full of aspiring writers about how to get published. After all, going off and winning an international talent contest loosely based on Pop Idol or signing on as a ship’s physician and cornering a world-famous author weren’t tactics others could easily follow. 

                               After the hoopla

In case you’re wondering, being a Lit Idol isn’t like being a Pop Idol. Yes, HarperCollinsCanada bought the rights to publish my debut novel before it was even finished. And yes, the international media coverage I received probably made me the world’s most famous unpublished writer for a week or so. But the publishing industry moves at a slower pace than the recording industry. After Helen was released more than a year after the fanfare of Lit Idol. And by then a lot of the hoopla had died down.

After Helen did well. It even attracted praise from critics who’d been skeptical of the whole Lit Idol idea. But it didn’t take the world by storm the way debut recordings by Pop Idols, American Idols, and Canadian Idols did. In other words, I didn’t make enough to quit my day job.

                              Unspoiled by fame

I guess you could say that I’m unspoiled by fame, mainly because fame visited me so briefly. When I publish a book these days, it doesn’t have nearly the same level of media hype behind it. That said, I still have a lot of fans. And I’m grateful that critics continue to give my work the thumbs up.

I’ve just released my third novel, Weekend Pass, and it’s already attracting wonderful reviews. I’m actively promoting the book in the UK because, well, this is where I got my big break. I feel like I owe the readers here a little something extra.

Weekend Pass is about Tasha, a nurse trying to pick up the pieces of her life during her first weekend home from drug treatment after she accidentally poisons her eight-year-old son. More broadly, it’s about struggling to rise above the mistakes that threaten to define us.

The thing that makes the book special is that it’s told from four different points of view, highlighting the affects of addiction on an extended family. It’s realistic, but it’s also hopeful.

I’m offering special Weekend Pass book launch promotions in January (including price discounts and giveaways of my earlier novels) which you’ll find on my website, notthatlondon.com. And in February, the first five book clubs who contact me will get free ebooks of Weekend Pass for all their members along with a free virtual visit from me.

Having read Weekend Pass I'm sure that it would make a fabulous book club read as there are so many things to discuss. 😉

                              Keeping readers entertained between my novels

It can be a long time between my novels, so to keep my readers entertained I send them a little monthly creative morsel. I do this thing called Famous Book Titles With One Letter Missing where I’ll take a title like Moby Dick, drop a letter, and change it into Mob Dick: “A private detective is blackmailed into working for a crime boss in 1949 Los Angeles.” I also share a piece of Twitter Fiction each month, a complete story that’s no longer than 140 characters. 

Image by LOVL1KEN on drawception.com


You can find samples on my website. It’s a lot of fun, especially if you enjoy word play and quirky storytelling.

I've had a quick peek at this on your website Paul and it is fun and also very clever! I'll definitely be signing up.

Purchase links for Weekend Pass - Amazon UK   Other bookstores 

You can find out more about Paul, his books and connect with him using the links below:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

I'd like to thank Paul for taking the time to stop by today and to wish him a very Happy Publication Day! 


  1. Hi Neats,
    Thanks so much for shining a light on Weekend Pass on its publication day. It was great fun writing this guest post. We had a great virtual launch party. Highlights are posted on my site notthatlondon.com for those who want to take a peek.

    1. You're very welcome Paul. I really enjoyed reading Weekend Pass and your guest post. It was great to get to find out more about you.
      I stayed up and attended your launch party and it was intersting to discover more about your writing process and how your latest book came in to being.