Tuesday, 10 December 2013

'Ladies and gentlemen. Mhairi McFarlane!'

‘Nottingham’s Mhairi McFarlane possesses the frankness of Sarah Millican and the acerbic wit of Tina Fey.’

A year after her debut novel became Harper Collins’ biggest ever selling ebook, Mhairi McFarlane is back on the best-seller lists with Here's Looking At You. Her covers scream ‘chick-lit’ but McFarlane’s books could also appear in the humour section as she’s up there with the best of today’s comedy writers.
Here’s Looking At You and the award-winning You Had Me At Hello are both priced at 99p* in ebook format. 
*prices accurate on 10/12/13

Thursday, 5 December 2013

It’s a Crime! – the verdict is in.

To celebrate the launch of three new books, Nottingham Writers' Studio, Five Leaves Publishing and Weathervane Press hosted a night of crime at Antenna.

Compèring the evening’s performances was Pippa Hennessy, Nottingham Writers’ Studio’s Development Director. The books being launched were:

The NWS Crime Sampler ( the pilot edition of the NWS Journal ), a collection of pieces showcasing the talents of seven members of the writers’ studio.

CRIME (Five Leavesannual compendium), a volume of themed essays exploring  varying aspects of crime.

The Deed Room by Michael RD Smith (Weathervane Press), an intelligent legal thriller with a love story.

First up was Lisa Shipman, reading her short story Sweets For My Sweet, a tale of redemption. She seemed undaunted, giving a confident performance that belied her status as an emerging writer. Her opening line was “Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to.” For Lisa Shipman, public speaking isn’t one of those things.

Rod Madocks read from his essay The Love Killers - a title that dons its cap to the confessional poet Anne Sexton. We saw a real-life family photo, of smiling Christopher Foster with his smiling wife and smiling daughter, hours before he murdered them. At the time the image was taken Foster had already decided to kill them. Madocks often uses pictures to compliment his writing but never as powerfully as this. With a chill in the air the author offered his thoughts on Dyadic Death (murder followed by suicide) to a captivated crowd.

Historical novelist Ann Featherstone gave us a glance at the life of Dando the Oyster-Eater. It turns out that oysters were the fast-food of the early 19th century and Dando, a man of ready hunger and sharp wit, found infamy after a series of bilking sprees.

The next book to launch was Michael RD Smith’s debut novel The Deed Room, crime fiction with a strong Nottingham setting. Smith read an excerpt which he wisely ended with a character in danger and the audience in suspense.

Political cartoonist John Stuart Clark appeared ill at ease as he looked down at the microphone. He was about to read from Scrappin’ wi’ Scouse, a story about his years as a ‘tatter’ working with ’Scouse’, real name William Holloway, a scrounger who puts the scrap in scrap metal. The reason for Clark’s apprehension was that he knew what was coming, that the end of the story concerned the death of his friend. Building up to this touching climax was a humourous account of the pair’s roguish antics, evoking memories of Nottingham in the 70s and 80s. I loved it.

Following such raw emotion was not going to be easy and that difficult task befell Andrew Kells. He coped admirably, finding his character’s voice from the off he attacked the role of young Jason - ‘I didn’t see nothing’ - with passion and energy.

“Ey up,” said Michael Eaton on taking the stand. It’s always a huge pleasure to hear from Eaton and he was on top form. After belly-laughing at his Jackie Pownall ad-lib, I listened in awe to his account of the final moments in the life of Charlie Peace, before he ended the night with a mention of Ray Gosling. It was a nice touch from a class act.

My congratulations go to Pippa Hennessy and all involved. It was a fine event that deserved a larger audience.

Copies of CRIME and The Deed Room are both available from the Five Leaves Bookshop at £9.99 and £7.99 respectively.
The NWS Crime Sampler can be read for free HERE

Reviews of all three books with appear on this blog next year.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Get to know Central Library

For new members and anyone who fancies a good nosey round, there’s the Get to know…Nottingham Central Library Tour on December 6th

Find out all there is to know about the library including information on how to find what you need and the special collections available.