We ask readers and writers about their favourite books. Louisa Young, author of My Dear I Wanted to Tell You and The Heroes’ Welcome shares her current favourite. In fact, Louisa had her choice with her, and produced it to order. She’d found it yesterday on a shelf of secondhand books for sale at the festival.
“I have a different favourite book everyday. Today it’s Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier. It was great to pick up a book by a Cornish author here, secondhand, in Cornwall. It’s beautifully written.”
Radio 4’s Richard Coles is appearing at the festival in conversation with Nina Stibbe, author of the bestselling letter collecton Dear Nina. Rev Coles’ memoir Fathomless Riches has recently been published.
“My favourite book is A Month In The Country by J L Carr. It’s the most perfect, lovely English novel,” he said. Anna Cathenka persuaded him into a selfie in the quite beautiful main marquee at the festival.
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 →
When I asked Ella what her favourite book was I could almost hear the whirring of her mind. As a bibliotherapist, she must have a lot of “favourites” for different reasons, and situations.
So instead of forcing one single title out of her, we settled on a name of a publishing house: Peirene Press.
Why? Because, Ella explains, they produce books that can be read in one sitting. Hanne Orstavik’s The Blue Room was the first title that turned her on to the Peirene Press. Fast, pacey fiction that can be devoured in an evening.
It is 10.30 am on a damp, wild day in North Cornwall. I am sitting in a marquee, beset at every turn by industrious money spiders, making their own pattern-poems with their little black bodies on the white expanse of my paper. The event begins with Eduard Heyning’s improvised, mellow soprano sax, coursing a late-night jazz sound poem into the wet veins of this early morning.
Victoria Field and Philip Wells recite their poetry to us. Their work is worlds apart. Field uses what she refers to as “little words”– a reference to a quote from Wendell Berry: “The little words that come out of the silence like prayers”. It is almost a paean to Victoria’s poems; friendly whispers that catch you when you’re least expecting it. Wells is the masculine voice to Victoria’s feminine quietude. His words roar right inside you: shake you to your core. Wells’ poems are fast-paced, loud, everything opposite to Field, and yet neither is less powerful.
Each recitation is brought to a close (or alternatively, introduced) by a sound poem from Heyning. As one of the audience later tells me: “his music clears your mind in between these two very different poets.” My favourite sound poem is what sounds to me like a heated argument, a two-and-fro between a very light, feminine voice and a rough, deep masculine voice. While Wells and Field are in accordance, the piece nevertheless seems relevant. Continue reading →
I am led into a small, red room – a dramatic setting for my Bibiliotherapy session with Ella Berthoud, who is dressed in a long, sweeping tunic in a shimmering green; I can’t help but feel like there might be some sorcery afoot.
Settled on a scarlet throw, we begin.
One thing that amazes me is the way Berthoud seems able to pull almost any book out of her head and talk about it. She’s a human library.
We talk about my current reading habits and I tell her about the pile of YA fiction by my bed at home. To best describe my relationship with books I show her my tattoo of Edgar Allan Poe. I tell her how reluctant I’ve been to read contemporary fiction. I tell her about my dad. His current health problems. How it scares me.
I’m surprised how easily I find it to talk to her.
We’ll be asking festival-goers and participants to share their favourite book. Starting off the conversation off is producer, scriptwriter and photographer Dan Hall from London – you can follow him @limehousedan – who is photographing the festival this weekend.
“My favourite book is 1984. A bit of a cliche I know, but I’m not sure of many other novels that have literally changed the world. It’s used universally as a warning about what we should be wary of in a state. I’m chilled by the concept of Newsspeak – the state controlling not only what we think but how we say it. This reduction of language has a current relevancy: just look at texting and Twitter!”
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 →
It’s 10.30am and we’ve arrived in the beautiful location of Trebetherick on the North coast of Cornwall.
Our team, made up of Jay, Anna, Annie, Sarah, Vicky and myself have been up bright and early on this mild autumn morning ready for a full day of writing ahead.
We’re ready and raring to go to give you a live stream through out the weekend of what’s happening at the North Cornwall Book festival this year. If you couldn’t make it this year, or just curious to what the festival is about then keep an eye our for reviews, live tweets and much more to get a taste of what’s going on.
Today entails many activities such as talks with Jill Murphy and Horatio Clare to workshops practising traditional crafts, and walks around the idyllic surroundings we’ll be in.
Why not get involved? Our question for the weekend is: what’s your favourite book and why? Tweet us @swjfalmouth or find us on Facebook swjfalmouth.