Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Gedling Book Festival

The Gedling Book Festival 2015 (supported by Gedling Borough Council, New Writers UK and Waterstones Nottingham) comes to Arnold’s Arnot Hill House in June (12-14). An event for readers and writers, featuring over twenty talks and workshops.

Where: Arnot Hill House, Arnot Hill Park, Arnold, Nottingham NG5 6LU

Cost: Free to attend. No booking required.
Friday 12th June

10am Mayor of Gedling Borough Council.
10.30am Historical novelist David Ebsworth talks about the women on the Napoleonic battlefields.
11.30am Alison Moore discusses the transition from her Booker nominated debut to her second novel He Wants.
12.30pm. From Authonomy to Scrivener, John Baird looks at some of the best websites and software for writers. Read Dawn of the Unread guest post.

2.00pm Join the crime writer Stephen Booth for his talk entitled ‘Bring in the bodies!’
3.00pm Discover how Eve Makis has written historical fiction through human stories. Read NottsLit review of The Spice Box Letters.
Saturday 13th June
Children’s Day
10.10am, 10.30am and 3.00pm Storytelling for children with Julie Malone, Rob Hann and Steve Taylor.
Writing workshops with Steve Bowkett running at various times throughout the day.
11.10am Tales from the TARDIS with David J Howe, contributor to over thirty titles about Dr Who.

12.20pm Best literary character, children’s costume award.
12.30pm Adventures of a visiting author, with children’s author Steve Bowkett.
1.30pm A spooky creative writing workshop for children with Sam Stone.

2.30pm Launch of the New Writers UK creative writing competition.
4.00pm Katy Perry tribute.

Sunday 14th June
Non-Fiction Day

10.30am The truth is out there somewhere, says Dr Nick Thom in his talk on writing about ancient history.
11.15am Ex-con Frankie Owens talks about life in prison and how he came to write a book about it.

12.15pm Frank Earp looks at the A to Z of Curious Nottinghamshire.
12.45pm Joe Earp examined Nottingham from old photographs.
2.00pm Rock ‘n’ roll star Vince Eager talks about his life, career and book.

3.00pm Professor Alison Milbank discusses J R R Tolkien.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Lowdham Book Festival, this June

The Lowdham Book Festival is in its 16th year.

Taking place during Independent Bookshop Week, this year’s festival (June 19-28) is typically rammed with events, taking place in the village and beyond. In chronological order here are some of the literary highlights:
Beatrix Potter on her Wedding Day, with Julia Damassa
Fri 19th June, 12.15-1pm, Southwell Minster
Meet Beatrix Potter aged 47 on her wedding day in 1913, as she returns to her beloved Hill Top to say goodbye. Written and performed by local author and storyteller, Julia Damassa, "After Miss Potter" is a poignant bridging of fact and fiction, capturing the essence of one of our finest literary icons. FREE event

You Say Potato... with David and Ben Crystal
Sunday 21st June, 2–4pm, Village Hall
David and Ben Crystal guide us through the eccentricities of our native dialects. Witty, authoritative and full of fascinating facts, their book You Say Potato is a celebration of the myriad ways in which English is spoken, and how our accents speak louder than words. David will also talk about his new book The Disappearing Dictionary, which collects quirky English words before they disappear for ever. Tickets: £7 Full, £6 concessions, £5 Festival Friends

An Afternoon with Eve Makis
Wednesday 24th June, 2–4pm, Southwell Road Community Building
Eve will talk about her latest book The Spice Box Letters. Read the NottsLit review.
Tickets: £7 Full, £6 Concessions, £5 Festival Friends, Includes tea and pastries

All Day Book Fair
Saturday 27th June, 10am–5pm, Main Street, Lowdham
Free. No tickets required.
The bookfair is spread over the Village Hall, a marquee behind the hall and assorted gazebos. It features publishers, charities, book trade organisations, booksellers with new and second-hand books and cards. There are displays of old-fashioned letterpress printing equipment. Free author talks and talks about books will go on throughout the day. There will be books for children and adults, bargain books and books signed by all the authors appearing during the festival.
The final Saturday at the Lowdham Book Festival is always a date for the diary. Shakespeare’s England, Newstead Abbey, forensic science, poetry and children’s books will be discussed, and lots more, including the public launch of Nottingham's Big City Read & Write at 2pm; Have you read THESE SEVEN Nottingham writers? Join Brick (cartoonist), Shreya Sen Handley, John Harvey, Alison Moore, Paula Rawsthorne and Megan Taylor (with a mystery guest presenting Alan Sillitoe) will be at the Methodist Chapel.

Frederick Clements, a Nottingham writer.

Nottingham’s Yvonne Wright has turned to to raise the £1,808 needed to create a biography of Frederick Clements. Frederick Who? You might ask. And that would be the reason for this book, to revive interest in the talented Nottingham writer/illustrator of the late 19th Century, and to celebrate his life and work.

Largely unknown today, Clements wrote and illustrated a two volume piece of work (he had intended to produce a third volume but never finished it). His subscribers included high profile local businessmen of the day.

This project is a labour of love for Yvonne who hopes the people of Nottingham (and beyond) will get to know Clements, a fellow citizen, albeit one that died almost a hundred years ago.
Twitter: @yvonnewright29

Saturday, 16 May 2015

In Review, The Spice Box Letters by Eve Makis

Reviewed, The Spice Box Letters by Eve Makis

Fans of Victoria Hislop’s prose or Khaled Hosseini’s storytelling will love The Spice Box Letters, for Eve Makis’s latest novel is remarkable. It deserves to be an international bestseller and I have no doubt it will pick up an award or three. Beautifully written with inventive structure, compelling characters, historical horrors and natural humour, it’s a rich feast.

During the First World War the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire were subjected to holocaust. This ‘Armenian Genocide’ of massacre, torture, abduction, rape and starvation, resulted in much of the Armenian population being deported. Mariam was one such exile, separated from her beloved brother, and, later, her first love. After Mariam dies, her granddaughter Katerina inherits a wooden spice box containing letters and a journal. Having these translated, Katerina learns of Mariam’s childhood and, in making her own journey, discovers her family’s tragic backstory. Katerina (present) and Mariam (past) are both joined by the book’s best character, Gabriel (great uncle/brother), who doesn’t take centre stage until well into the novel.

The many settings, partly defined by their cuisine, are vividly depicted and the family superbly represent this often neglected period of history (and location). It’s an engaging read that takes risks with its structure. The novel is a spice box of secrets, lined with emotion, and full of a history that rests on love. Outside the box is a present of hope, romance, and, in the case of Gabriel and his immediate family, dark and full humour.

If Nottinghamshire’s authors had a league table, Makis would now be in the Champions League places. The switching viewpoints, time periods and setting work perfectly. It’s easy to keep up with all the love and loss.

We would not be here without our ancestors and in knowing our past, and taking pride in one’s heritage, we can learn to respect other cultures. All this whilst understanding the value of family, blood or adopted, and that it must follow new directions. Prepare to cry.