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Daisy on the Outer Line by Ross Sayers: Review and Author Guest Feature – GLASGOW

14th February 2021

Daisy on the Outer Line by Ross Sayers : Review and Author Guest Feature – GLASGOW

Daisy on the Outer Line by Ross Sayers

Life, Death and Time Travel on the Glasgow Subway… If this tagline doesn’t lure you into reading Ross Sayers’s latest YA novel, Daisy on the Outer Line, will me saying, read this book, it’s so unbelievably good!, do it?

Daisy on the Outer Line tells the story of 19-year-old Daisy who, on the drunken night of her stepdad’s funeral, finds herself on a mysterious, rattling train on the outer line of the Glasgow Subway that leads her on an extraordinary journey of righting some wrongs and saving a life. Throw in pinch of time-travelling paradoxes and you have a winning narrative that’s grounded in heart, humour and hope.

Daisy on the Outer Line by Ross SayersOh, and did I mention that it’s written in Scots! But don’t let this last bit put you off, far from it. Delicious in tone and remarkably easy to read, the use of Scottish dialect creates a rather unique experience that boldly reaffirms the beauty and magic of storytelling and reading aloud. (I only hope this is made into an audiobook in the near future!)

Skilfully, and sensitively, woven into this wild mix of Scots and cosmic consequences are important themes surrounding grief and morality, mental health and broken relationships. Yet Sayers has this uncanny ability to bring perfectly-timed laughter and charm to this heaviness that reminded me of the likes of Malcolm Duffy and Alex Wheatle.

As a reader who’s never set foot in Glasgow, reading Daisy on the Outer Line felt like revisiting a favourite city. Entranced by the instant familiarity that came with each descriptive setting, Sayers has this intoxicating ability of teasing a concrete (and for me, unknown) location from within the page and vividly bringing it to life for the reader to embrace and comfortably walk beside Daisy’s own footsteps.

Daisy is a beautifully drawn out and developed character. Purposefully flawed, with a self-destructive core and a tendency to come off as selfish, Daisy is far from your typical hero. Yet her unapologetic honesty and down-to-earth vulnerability makes her one of the most genuine and relatable YA protagonists I’ve read in such a long time. In fact, Daisy reads like a close friend – I cringed with her, and sometimes at her, cried with her, laughed with her and was desperate to see her through to a happy ending.

Unique, heartfelt and utterly hilarious, Daisy on the Outer Line is such a rare reading treat. Oh how I wish I could travel back in time just to re-experience the joys of reading this book for the first time.

And now I’ll very gladly hand the floor over to Ross Sayers himself who’s here to tell TripFiction about 5 key locations from Daisyon the Outer Line, and why he set scenes there.

TripFiction’s Kid’s Lit Writer in Residence

Ross Sayers On Location: Glasgow and Daisy on the Outer Line

The Cathouse

I didn’t move to Glasgow until I was just turning 25, so I didn’t know the city all that well. The first couple of times I heard the Cathouse mentioned, it usually wasn’t in a good context. Basically, a lot of folk have their preconceptions of what the place is like, usually based on the people they see queuing up to get in on a Friday night, e.g. big goth energy. Fortunately I didn’t let these opinions stand in my way. The Cathouse is a top notch night out and I couldn’t wait to write a scene where Daisy visits. (Daisy has a similar music taste to myself, because I am a kiddy on writer who just makes my characters like all the same things as me). Once lockdown is over, I’ll be there belting out some emo tunes for sure.


Daisy on the Outer Line by Ross SayersPaesano

While we never see the characters enter Paesano, they do get several takeaways from there. For those out of the loop, Paesano is a pizza place with 2 locations in Glasgow. It would be fair to say that, no matter the time of day, it will be heaving. Now, I understand it has probably been overhyped at this point but, given I used to live a 5 minute walk from the west end one, it holds a special place in my heart. My recommendation is either the no 4 (ham and mushroom) or no 5 (spicy salami). Essentially, the book is one big advert for Paesano, and I am still hopeful that I will get at least one free pizza from them once the book is released. Maybe even some kind of black card which gets me free pizza for life. A boy can dream.

The Braehead Arena

I had a lot of fun writing a section where Daisy goes to a Braehead Clan ice hockey game (team is now called the Glasgow Clan but the book is set in 2017, prior to the name change.) I had a season ticket a couple of years ago so I know the experience pretty well. Since we were seeing everything from Daisy’s fresh eyes, I was able to describe all the sights and sounds as a newcomer. There are a lot of things which seem odd the first time you go: the pre-match blackout, the mascot Clangus appearing in the crowd at random, the fact you can actually buy alcohol at a sports event in Scotland. Also, that the arena is located inside the shopping centre at Braehead, so to get to the place, you have to walk through a lot of shoppers and food courts. A highly recommended family friendly night out.

Glasgow Central Station

In one chapter, Daisy goes a wander through the city centre, enjoys a Five Guys for lunch (what did I tell you, she likes all the things I like, what are the chances) and ends up in Central Station. Obviously, for some people, Central Station will be a sight of much stress and anxiety as they rush for their trains to work or back home, but as a non-commuter, I quite enjoy being inside the station. It’s the hub of the city and is a great place to people watch. I have fond memories of going to visit friends and taking the train through some of the more daft sounding Glasgow towns from Central Station. Crossmyloof, for starters. (In fact, there’s even an ongoing documentary series called Inside Central Station on BBC Scotland, which does the place far more service than I do).

Daisy on the Outer Line by Ross SayersCowcaddens Subway Station

Now, there are, as you might imagine, a number of subway stations featured in the book. There’s Buchanan Street, slap bang in the middle of town. There’s Kelvinbridge, located handily next to Inn Deep, where a pint can be enjoyed right on the river. There’s Hillhead, just a stone’s throw away from Insta favourite Ashton Lane. So why did I choose to have Daisy’s first time travel experience from relative unknown Cowcaddens station? Simply put…I used to get off there for my work. Not the most exciting answer, but the truth. Also, it does have a spookiness which cannot be matched. Try getting a late train from down there one time, when there’s no one else on the platform. You’ll think you’re about to go through some life changing event too…

Ross Sayers is a Young Adult author from Stirling. Ross’s first book, Mary’s the Name, was shortlisted for The Saltire Society First Book Award and his second, Sonny and Me, was nominated in The Scots Language Awards for ‘Bairns Book of the Year’. To find out more about Ross visit his website rosssayers.co.uk.

Catch Ross on Twitter:

Daisy on the Outer Line is published by Cranachan, Gob Stopper imprint.

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  1. User: Lorna Beattie

    Posted on: 20/02/2021 at 11:25 am

    I’m from Glasgow originally and miss the city so will need to give this a read. I used to read The Broons as a kid, which was also written in Scots, but I haven’t seen a YA novel written in it before!