Tuesday, 10 June 2014

'Girl's Night Out' at Ickenham Festival

The authors on stage
Ickenham Library hosted a very exciting event at the Compass Theatre last night (Mon 9 June) as part of Ickenham Festival Week. Their 'Girl's Night Out' featured four fantastic female novelists in conversation and also the chance for audience questions and a meet and greet.

The four novelists were Lisa Jewell, Jenny Colgan, Rowan Coleman and Alex Marwood who appeared in front of a sold out auditorium. The evening began with each author reading an excerpt from one of their own novels and continued onto a discussion from everything from favourite cocktails to what they would include on the curriculum reading list following on from Michael Gove's controversial omission of American novels.

Lisa Jewell began the evening with an exclusive reading from her new novel The Third Wife which is due out in July. She explained how she has been attempting to write a psychological thriller, but keeps failing ending up with riveting family dramas instead. I really enjoy her novels so it was fascinating to hear about how they do not always end up as how she envisaged them.

Next up was Rowan Coleman who read from her latest novel The Memory Book about a woman who develops Alzheimer's Disease and has a 'memory book' created for her by her family. Rowan read a lovely part of the book from the point of view of the woman's daughter remembering a situation when her eccentric mum made her feel better about school at the age of 12.

Jenny Colgan read from The Loveliest Chocolate Shop In Paris when Anna first arrives in the French capital. She also spoke of her own experiences of living in France and the differences in writing this fiction as well as Doctor Who stories (under the name T.J Colgan).

Ending the readings was a very sinister excerpt from Alex Marwood's The Killer Next Door which is out later this month. It was really unsettling, no wonder Stephen King has described it as 'creepy as hell'! Alex also spoke about why she thinks Crime Fiction is the most popular of fiction genres.

This was a really interesting evening and I particularly enjoyed the discussions at the end regarding curriculum, agreeing with Alex Marwood's choice of WWI poetry. There was also a bit of a debate on whether fiction should be relatable for teenagers. Jenny Colgan definitely thought not! Good questions from the audience included why authors write under different names and what they though of the e-book vs paper copy debate. All of the authors apart from Lisa Jewell write under two names to differentiate between the two genres they write so that the reader knows which kind of book to expect. They also explained how a new name can mean a clean slate for a novelist. While they all accepted the rise of the e-book, they explained how these sales do not translate to bestseller lists - so keep buying paper copies is what I say!

The evening concluded with a chance to meet the authors in the foyer and have books signed which was a lovely experience. All four of the ladies were really welcoming and chatty and took the time to speak to each audience member individually and write a personal message (and maybe even a doodle!) The ticket price also included a book from one of the authors, so it was a great value night out too! It was great to have an event like this locally in Hillingdon without having to travel into London and I hope Hillingdon Libraries plan plenty more of these events!

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