Archive by Author

A night at the museum – Swindon Festival of Literature

18 May

Salvador at museum


What could be better?

A night at the museum, a smile and a new book!

Salvador our official Night Time at Museums Correspondent says ‘Jump, the stories that made me jump, I jumped, everybody jumped at the scream, jumped, I did, I jumped.

The stories that made me jump were the best. Continue reading

Tracey Thorn rescued me from a lifetime of listening to Gene Loves Jezebel – Swindon Festival of Literature

17 May

It was 1982, I’d bought a black coat, black boots, PVC trousers, cheap blue hair gel and a Bauhaus single, then Tracey Thorn released ‘A Distant Shore’ and saved me from now hanging around town in my late-forties looking very hot in a black PVC trench coat with every conceivable part of my face pierced or tattooed.

Instead I wear red trousers, thanks Tracey.

Thorn had released a mini album of simplicity that soon allowed her the plough her trade alongside Aztec Camera, The Go-Betweens and Orange Juice. Continue reading

Speak, Memory – Philip Davis at Swindon Festival of Literature

17 May
Philip Davis

Philip Davis the writer of Reading and the Reader ©Calyx Pictures

I was immersed in words, in the idea of literature, in the excitement of reading, in the prospect of discovery, I was at The Arts Centre. Philip Davis was enthusiastically proposing literature as a way of exploring yourself, accepting it as a form of mental travel. Here is part of the journey he took us on. Please read the following poem aloud –


The Road Not Taken


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Continue reading

Filer nails it – Nathan Filer at Swindon Festival of Literature

16 May
Nathan Filer (centre) ©Calyx Pictures

Nathan Filer (centre) ©Calyx Pictures

Luckily ‘The Shock of the Fall’ is not a kiss and tell memoir by Mark E. Smith’s dentist, but an award-winning jewel of a book by first time novelist Nathan Filer.

Written completely from the point of view of nine-year old Matthew, the book has an implied darkness from the very start.

Filer was an enlightening guest, as he described the process of writing his novel from the very first moment the phrase ‘I had no intention of putting up a fight but these guys weren’t taking any chances’ entered his head and wouldn’t stop repeating. Continue reading

Beaker fans prove there’s nothing like a Dame

13 May
Jacqueline Wilson and two fans. Photo by ©Calyx Pictures

Jacqueline Wilson and two fans.
Photo by ©Calyx Pictures

An audience with Jacqueline Wilson is a special thing. No-one in the sold out Arts Centre seemed that worried about what she had to say, just being in the same room as the creator of Tracy Beaker seemed special enough. Continue reading

The Poison Passion of the Chocolate Killer with a Bounty On Her Head – Lisa Appignanesi at Swindon Festival of Literature

12 May

Lisa Appignanesi gives an incredible insight into the way three different countries dealt with crimes of passion in the late 19th century.

In depth research and extraction of the most arresting cases makes her book ‘Trials of Passion’ a fascinating but also surprising read.

In a general sense we learn that the French legal system flexed to deal with emotion whereas the British system steadfastly sought out the visible facts and used cold factual evidence to construct a case. Continue reading

Joyce makes perfect sense (Rachel not James) – Swindon Festival of Literature

10 May

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rachel Joyce wrote The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, her first novel, which was the ninth best-selling book in 2013 (outselling JK Rowling’s first foray into adult fiction) and was nominated for the Man Booker Prize.

For these reasons my newly sharpened pencil jabbed me hard in the thigh when Rachel started to give writing tips.

Continue reading

Help me make it through the night – John Carey at Swindon Festival of Literature

9 May

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

John Carey, ‘The Unexpected Professor’ of his most recent volumes title is less cagey when it comes to sharing his viewpoints about books.

Choosing to open his unabashed hour long delve into why literature is so great with a very recent quote from Michael Rosen, there was little doubt that Carey himself would not be mincing his words, ‘Don’t tell kids what to admire, let kids decide for themselves’. Continue reading

Unknown bones in my cutlery drawer – Bee Wilson at Swindon Festival of Literature

8 May

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I rarely consider utensils, they are just there, unless they’re not and then I consider them, I consider them lost or in the washing up.

I don’t consider why they are the way they are or why the Chinese think we’re weird and that the average French kitchen has an array of knives which could easily supply several circus knife throwing professionals. Continue reading

Sherbet lemons: ‘punishing yourself is what it’s all about’ – Ann Widdecombe at Swindon Festival of Literature

6 May
Ann Widdecombe speaking at the Swindon Festival of Literature ©Calyx Pictures

Ann Widdecombe speaking at the Swindon Festival of Literature ©Calyx Pictures

Last night I was held spellbound by the contradictory tale of a tenacious, ferocious, grey creature with a mixed public reputation, today Swindon Festival of Literature presented Ann Widdecome in all of her similar guises.

Ostensibly in town to talk about her book Sackcloth and Ashes, the former MP made it clear right from the start that she was happy to talk and take questions about any aspect of present day politics or her often controversial stance on religious issues.

This was one intimidating, charming performer with no need for protection as she slickly moved from one topic to another. At the centre of her 28 minutes (exactly) presentation was the idea of penance and where does it fit into our modern ‘me, me, me’ society. Continue reading