Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Blenheim Literary Festival...on camera

What kind of event can bring together such a rich mix of minds as Blenheim...Lucas Hollweg, cook and writer, Lucy Worsley, guardian of the nation's empty palaces, Sir John Major, former prime minister, Ben Okri, poet and novelist, the delightful Harry Eyres, he of the slow lane column for the FT, Sir John Holmes, special advisor and humanitarian aid expert, screenwriter and novelist Bill Nicholson who worked on Gladiator, Shadowlands and Iris, and the wonderful Ruth Rendell.

It was a privilege to meet them all and interview them for the camera. You can see the results here

And in a place that looks very like this...

Join in next time and don't forget the Oxford Lit Fest, spring next year.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Nature's way of reminding us she's there

Here's a couple of photos from Superstorm Sandy's landing at the beach near NYC...lest we forget.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Back from the Brink, the Price of Fame and News from the Trenches...LBF

The London Book Fair this year was my first opportunity to meet William Boyd. I've long admired his work and rather cheekily handed him a copy of American Rebel in return for his Vienna and London novel, Waiting for Sunrise. He'd signed his for me, along with a line of other admirers. I nearly offered to do the same carried away by the moment. I pulled back from the brink just in time, thank the stars. What was I thinking??

Lionel Shriver was there too, chatting with Mark Lawson of Radio 4's Front Row arts review programme and warning against high expectations when fame and fortune strike. It made absolute sense, and yet as I looked around the audience of hopefuls, myself included, one couldn't help but notice the idea taking a while to sink in.

Self-publishing, independent publishing, whatever one wants to call it, had a much bigger presence this year, even if the traditional industry and the newbies are still staring at each other from the trenches of a ceasefire neither side entirely comprehends. A lull, or the end of hostilities?

Even as the no-man's land narrows and the barbed wire comes down, it seems no-one is quite sure what the future holds. We watch with interest. Perhaps by Frankfurt in the autumn, there might be a working armistice?

Dreaming Spires and authors that inspire...despite the snow

I had the opportunity, courtesy of the Oxford Literary Festival organisers and Eleanor at Four Communications, to talk with some fellow authors and even persuade one or two of them to chat about their work on camera.

Meg Rosoff of "The Way I Live Now" fame gave a characteristically witty and open interview which you can see and is an absolute delight in person. Kate Mosse, whose book Labyrinth has sold four million copies will be next to appear on the Alto Pico site. She's a wonderful storyteller, warm and very articulate...look out for her soon.

It was also a privilege to chat to Antony Beevor, historian and author of the gripping Stalingrad. I wondered how he'd achieved that narrative drive in his writing, that great sense of story, and epic story at that. By hard work it turns out, not least the experience of writing novels before he turned to history.

And then there was Joanne Harris, the writer of Chocolat most famously, but a terrifically talented all-rounder able to write in a number of genres with apparent ease. I'm not a fan of the Johnny Depp film, but please read the book if you haven't already. Joanne's style is something special, I mean the language itself. I wish I could emulate the rich, rhythmic flow of words. Hat's off.

Joanna Trollope, Lionel Shriver and a nost of other great writers were also at this most prestigious and relaxed of festivals, braving snow falls and cold winds in the Christ Church quad and the inpressive Sheldonian Theatre to meet readers, writers and enthusiasts.

Thank you to them all.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

And the bookmark...

These fabulous bookmarks have been designed by Igor Boskov of Alto Pico...

Pretty huh?

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The sea, the sea

And now I'm back in the UK and it's January. The snow is melting today and the sun is out. Christmas has come and gone and thirteen is the number I must remember and can't.

 I didn't ride the west coast train. I didn't go inland to the Mojave. I only went to Hollywood on one evening look-see and I won't need to go again. California was interesting, but not for the reasons I thought it might be.

I did cook a kind of nut roast for Thanksgiving. I did sit on the beach and get soaked to the skin by an unexpected wave hitting a rock and creating an enormous plume of water like a geyser. We did lose a key, found it again, and lost it again. Life as metaphor.

And the sea, always the sea...