News of two upcoming events in the UK. First, via Elizabeth Chadwick (an author whose books Cathy very much enjoys), the Historical Novel Society will be holding its 6th conference at the National Railway Museum in York, starting 12 April. Among the highlights are a session about the "exciting new publisher" Crème de la Crime, "a major player in sharp crime fiction, including historical crime. Lynne Patrick tells us about this exciting new publisher and the kinds of historical fiction she wants to publish." The launch of The Unquiet Heart by Gordon Ferris, his follow-up to Truth Dare Kill, will be celebrated. Another interesting session is: Historical Fiction: The Next Ten Years. "A panel of ‘new’ writers, Sarah Bower (The Needle in the Blood), Roz Southey (Broken Harmony) and Russell Whitfield (Gladiatrix) discuss their paths to publication and what they see as the future of historical fiction. Audience participation is more than welcome in what is guaranteed to be a lively debate."
The other event is the Kingston readers' festival, this year sponsored by John Lewis* as well as Borders. Several of the talks are actually in John Lewis – Nirvana! The town's new theatre, the Rose, features heavily also, and will be one of the beneficiaries of any proceeds. Several of the talks are quite academic, but there are quite a few of more general interest. For example I had not realised that Mary Lawson, author of the excellent Crow Lake (protagonist a scientist!) is a local author. She will be talking on 12 May, unfortunately not in John Lewis but at one of the other festival venues.
Other attractions are historian Alison Weir, Virginia Ironside on discovering that "being 60 wasn't a curse but a blessing" (her book is called "No! I don't want to Join a Bookclub"), Simon Hoggart on the Tony Blair years, Michael Billington (of the Guardian) on British theatre since 1945, and palaeontologist Richard Fortey, emeritus of the Natural History Museum and here talking about the institution's history. There are also talks about Harry Potter, Chinese creativity, allergies, and the influence of Salman Rushdie's uses of the idea of influence. One guaranteed sell-out will be our most famous local author, Jacqueline Wilson. She is marvellous, she always gives wonderful talks at these events — and as I've observed over the past 17 years, gives so much of her time to local schools and other institutions. I've attended her talks with each of my daughters when they were at the appropriate ages, and I can highly recommend her (if you can get a ticket– all her events are instantly oversubscribed by hordes of girls in pink).
If you look at the Kingston programme and fancy going along to any of the talks, drop me a line and we can go together — and, of course, enjoy a cup of tea and the odd browse in John Lewis.
* Slogan: "never knowingly undersold". Alternative version: "you don't need to go to any other shop".