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.

Festival finale: Louisa Young interviewed by Patrick Gale

Jay Armstrong and Sarah Purnell respond to the festival’s final event, in which Patrick Gale talked to Louisa Young. Here Jay reports on the session, and Sarah responds to its content.

It is the last session of the North Cornwall Book Festival. Patrick Gale and Louisa Young meet to talk about her Costa nominated novel, My Dear I Wanted to Tell You, set at the time of the First World War. Young’s extraordinary research into early maxillofacial surgery was sparked by a surprising link to her grandmother, a sculptor, who helped make the casts from which faces were surgically reconstructed.

Describing techniques that were as innovative as they were crude, we were given an insight into the treatment of soldiers wounded in trench warfare. Young talked passionately about how she used character to explore how we the reader would react to disfigurement, trauma and loss. We were at once fascinated and appalled by what these traumatised young men went through; it was a timely reminder in the lead up to Remembrance Sunday.

There are some interesting similarities between Gale’s upcoming new novel A Place Called Winter and My Dear I Wanted To Tell You in terms of the weaving of family history into the story, and the attempts of characters to rescue each other in trying circumstances.

My Dear is the first of two published books – its sequel is The Heroes’ Welcome – and Young is currently writing the third in the series. She explained that the hero’s coming of age coincides with the outbreak of the Second World War: it promises to be another heartrending portrayal of the impact of war on both on those who fought and those who were left with the enduring trauma of conflict.

Sarah Purnell writes

As a writer, I am forever fascinated by another writer’s process. Or, at least, hearing them answer the question: where does it come from?

And what is it? The characters. The plot. The setting. The inspiration.

Louisa Young’s current series of novels is historical fiction, and it’s clear that she has done her research, giving us a potted history of maxillofacial surgery. It’s fascinating. And I think the story of her grandmother being involved in the actual workings of the early practice of it shows a passionate personal connection, but also that we all seem to have a story-granny.

There’s usually that one person in a family that has a spectacular story to tell. Something that sounds like it must be fiction, but it isn’t. It is, however, a great point of inspiration.

It’s not an instant process. Young reminds us that stories need more than one idea, and they need to be shelved inside of our minds and carried around to grow. I suppose, rather crudely, it’s like a birthing.

My favourite book: The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

Kim has volunteered at the festival
Kim has volunteered at the festival

Kim has been volunteering at the festival, and helping out with some of the practicalities: including serving up a delicious lunch of homemade cottage pie. She’s currently reading The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. “It was recommended by a friend and unlike me, I’ve read it on a Kindle. Normally I’m a fan of the old-fashioned book! I’m loving the unusual style of her writing; beautiful evocative words in short-clipped sentences. A bit like the shipping forecast – it gives it such an immediacy.
“I’m only half-way through and I’ve got lots of questions about the plot and waiting for it to unfold. I’m looking forward to seeing how the story pans out!”

Words and picture: Jay Armstrong

Rev Richard Coles and Nina Stibbe

Mark Nina Horatio crop
Nina Stibbe, Rev Richard Coles and Horatio Clare. Picture: Jay Armstrong

By Jay Armstrong

It was a full house (or marquee even) and the crowds were not disappointed. We were treated to an hour of lively and insightful discussion between Rev Richard Coles and Nina Stibbe. Both have recently published books – one a memoir, the other a novel – with surprising similarities of theme.

Coles’ memoir, Fathomless Riches, is a book that “takes you to places other clergy memoir doesn’t stray” while Nina’s novel Man At The Helm was written out of fury at “10 years of my mother’s loneliness” following the divorce from Nina’s father. They both tell a story of being born into money and privilege before their lives changed as British manufacturing floundered in the 60s. They were left “humiliated and embarrassed” because with this reduction in wealth, came a reduction in their father’s status which reflected on whole family.

The discussion ranged from Richard’s grandfather’s hidden adulteries to Nina’s father’s elderly coming out, around which the main concern was: “But he’s part of the Montgomery scrabble club!”. The conversation was candid, and Richard said that in being honest in his memoir, he had been accused on Twitter of just “TMI Vicar”. Coles’ mother, however, appeared less scandalised: her take was “Oh darling, [it’s] charming, except where garish.”  Continue reading

My favourite book: Kayla the Pottery Fairy and Hairy McClary

Ivy and Elsie
Ivy and Elsie: young readers at the North Cornwall Book Festival

This weekend we’re asking festival-goers to talk to us about their favourite books. Here are what Elsie, age five and Ivy, age three most enjoy.

Elsie: “My favourite book is Kayla the Pottery Fairy. It’s scary with goblins. But it’s OK as the fairies win in the end.”

Ivy: “My favourite book is Hairy McClary. Because it’s got dogs in it.”

Words and picture by Jay Armstrong

My favourite book: Dan Hall on 1984

Dan Hall
Photographer, producer and scriptwriter Dan Hall

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!”

Words and picture by Jay Armstrong

Good Morning, Book Lovers!

SWJ Falmouth students at North Cornwall Book Festival
SWJ Falmouth students at North Cornwall Book Festival: Aysha Bryant, Sarah Purnell, Anna Cathenka, Jay Armstrong and Annie Harrison (L-R)

By Aysha Bryant

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.

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