SALISBURY author and playwright Barney Norris is taking readers on an “uplifting journey” through life’s traumas in his new novel.

Turning For Home is the latest offering from Barney and follows on from the success of his debut, bestselling novel Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain. Five Rivers was featured as Waterstones Book of the Month and was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize and Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards.

The new book, which is out tomorrow (Thursday), is set around a regular family gathering to celebrate a birthday. It focuses on the characters of Robert and his granddaughter Kate who have been dealing with traumas in their lives.

“It is a story about a family gathering in a house on the Wiltshire and Hampshire border where this man has been living for 40 years and every year in that time he has had a birthday party in May. This time he is having to do it himself because his wife has died,” explains Barney.

The book also delves into a woman’s struggles with an eating disorder and follows her reconnection with her family at the birthday celebration.

“She is coming to the party for the first time in three years in an attempt to re-engage with her family having been ill for a period and developed a severe eating disorder in the wake of an accident that tore her life up,” says Barney.

When writing the new book Barney drew inspiration from real stories that crossed his path.

“Ultimately I hope the book is a relatively uplifting journey through trauma,” he says.

“What is super exciting is reminding people to call their mum and their families and remember that they are alive and that it is happening now. I hope it is about the way that we do find reasons to live in the aftermath of trouble.”

He adds: “It is about identity and how we fight to maintain and shape our identities and the ways we are all at war within ourselves and carry conflicts within ourselves.”

Barney, who grew up in Salisbury, says: “I am really proud of the book. I’m quite a fan. It has got a dramatic arch and a shape which I think is quite satisfying and rewarding to experience as a reader. It may be a bit heavy for some people’s tastes.”

Barney says he has learned lessons from writing his first novel, adding: “There are things in this [new book] that I couldn’t have done before and that makes me quite excited.”

“There is also not as much swearing,” he laughs.

Fans can expect more novels from Barney in the future.

“There will be two more [books] to come. I keep plugging away.”

He says his next project is already underway after a trip to get some milk sparked a story idea.

And Barney will also be releasing a book about his father’s work as a composer.

“I just try to do as much as I can, write plays, I’m going to try and write movies and for TV, write books - anything I can get into the public domain.”

Barney is the Martin Esslin Playwright in Residence at Keble College, Oxford. He also founded the Up In Arms theatre company.

And his playwriting talents will also be seen this year at Nicholas Hytner’s new Bridge Theatre in London with his new play Nightfall. It is one of three inaugural productions at the Bridge Theatre in London.

Barney says it is a “hugely exciting opportunity” to bring his play Nightfall to the 900-seat theatre. This he admits is a “massive leap” for him after making touring and regional work.

Barney was at Waterstones in Salisbury yesterday (Tuesday) for an event where he met with fans and read extracts from the new book ahead of its release.