North Cornwall Book Festival 2014: catch-up with all our coverage

We published lots of blogposts over the weekend: catch up with them all here

Interviews

Reports on talks, sessions and workshops

Personal responses and creative writing

My favourite book: festival-goers and authors share their favourite volume

Our brilliant festival team was: Jay Armstrong, Sarah Purnell, Annie Harrison, Anna Cathenka, Aysha Bryant, Shannan Sterne, Sarah Cave, Emma Gibbs, Paige Davis and David Brady. Thanks also to Sorrel Watson for her interview.

Interview: Jill Murphy on the Worst Witch

By Emma Gibbs

Jill Murphy is best known for The Worst Witch stories that follow the misadventures of Mildred Hubble at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. The books were an instant success when they were first released 40 years ago and still remain hugely popular today. Murphy, an author and illustrator, went on to win the 1995 Smarties Book Prize in the 0-5 years category for her story, The Last Noo-noo. She is also famous for The Large Family picture books. She currently lives in Cornwall.

Ahead of The North Cornwall Book Festival, which Murphy will be attending for a children’s workshop on the 26th October, I talked to Jill to discuss her life as a writer…

Why did you decide to write children’s fiction?

“I have always done it, and could read and write from a very early age,” she said. “There was really no alternative.”

I asked about the incredible realisation that she could both write and draw well at such a young age. She “didn’t see it as a talent,” she said, but as a way to entertain herself. And as for her artistry skills, she explained she was often told she could “draw her way out of trouble” in school.  Continue reading

Interview: Horatio Clare on Down to the Sea in Ships

Cargo ship
The cargo ship Rio de la Plata. Picture: Glen/Flickr/Creative Commons

By Sorrel Watson

Horatio Clare will not be defined by a particular literary genre. His work spans moving and insightful memoirs of youth, tales of drug addiction and mental health, adventure stories of the highest calibre, and most recently a children’s book.

Raised on a sheep farm in the Welsh Black Mountains, Clare was immersed in the wilderness from a very young age. With no telly in the house, he and his brother relied on their imaginations, games and books for entertainment – sparking his appetite for adventure.

His latest book, Down to the Sea in Ships – an exploration of the lives of the crew on a 115,000 tonne cargo ship – is the product of such an adventure. Clare spent months onboard, learning about the beauty and power of the sea, loneliness, definitions of masculinity and the dangers and injustices faced by the people involved in this un-regulated and extremely treacherous industry. Continue reading

Interview: Philip Wells – the Fire Poet

Minack Theatre, Cornwall
Philip Wells walked 270 miles along the coastal path barefoot. His first week of walking included a visit to the Minack. Picture: Robert Pittman/Flickr/Creative Commons

By Anna Cathenka

“Poetry is always beyond definition, it is bigger than anybody ever realised and as long as we keep that sense of scale and cosmic piety about it, we won’t lose its deep magic,” says Philip Wells. His passion for poetry is fiery and contagious – and explains his moniker, The Fire Poet. Wells’ new book, Horse Whispering In The Military Industrial Complex is about using poetry as “a channel through which to speak the truth,” he explains as we discuss his poetry and activism ahead of his appearance at the North Cornwall Book Festival.

“I have fond memories of Cornwall from childhood holidays, but walking 270 miles barefoot along the coastal path made it very special,” he says. Wells is one of the founders of Barefoot Billion, the project for which he walked 1000 miles barefoot in order to raise awareness of the 1 billion children living in poverty. The walk started in Cornwall: it raised £23,000, as well as getting children in 80 different countries writing poetry.

The walk also “awakened the conscience of the world” in Wells. It allowed him to discover “the absolute kernel of what matters: a connection, a golden thread that runs through us all, asking us to change the world and stop all this ridiculous inequality. Now is the time to act, I will use poetry to do that.”  Continue reading

Interview: Patrick Gale on A Place Called Winter

Patrick Gale
Patrick Gale’s forthcoming novel is A Place Called Winter. Picture: Endelienta

By Jay Armstrong

Patrick Gale is busy – and he’s showing no signs of slowing up. The best-selling author is a passionate advocate of the arts in Cornwall; he is chairman of the North Cornwall Book Festival, this weekend returning for a second year at St Endelion with a mission is “to bring books and their authors to Cornwall”. And who better placed to do that than the popular and prolific Cornwall-based novelist?

Along with the festival, Gale’s energies are currently divided between screenplay projects – he’s developing an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and is writing a three part original drama series, Man in an Orange Shirt, for BBC2 – and promoting his fifteenth novel, A Place Called Winter, due to be published in March 2015.

Gale is known for a deep connection to his authentic characters, often sketched around personalities from his past, and this latest work delves deep into his own family history. It is loosely based on the story of his maternal great grandfather, Harry Cane, who left his wife and child in England to set up as a homesteader in the wild prairies of Canada.  Continue reading