Category Archives: Author Events

Headline Blogger Night 2017

On Thursday, I was lucky enough to attend a blogger night hosted by Headline at Carmelite House on Victoria Embankment in London.  This was my second visit to the wonderful sixth floor of Carmelite House with it’s famous (amongst the blogging world at least) rooftop terrace, although the doors to the terrace were kept firmly shut due to the miserable weather.

I’m always quite nervous about attending these kinds of events – I often find it difficult to initiate a conversation with people I don’t know, and I don’t like inviting myself into a group, which is often the best way to start talking to people.

I needn’t have worried, however – the Headline team were extremely welcoming, and ushered people around to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to meet the authors in attendance.  Additionally, book bloggers are a lovely bunch of people, and I don’t think that anyone was left standing on their own for very long 🙂

I was absolutely delighted to meet Felicia Yap, who’s novel Yesterday will be published in August.  I picked up a sampler for this novel, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am.  I’m more than willing to beg for a proof of this when they become available!  And isn’t this cover glorious!?

yesterday

I also enjoyed meeting Gemma Todd, whose novel Defender I’m extremely excited about – it sounds very much like my kind of thing – as well as Colette McBeth, Nikola Scott, Mary Torjussen and Julia Crouch.

As well as the wonderful company, wine and nibbles, there were plenty of books available.  I felt that I showed considerable restraint in only picking up four titles (plus the one in the goodie bag!) – I was tempted to take more, but was conscious of the fact that I’d have to carry them back to the train.  Note to self – take a backpack next time.  Tote bags are great, but loading up on weighty tomes just gives you a bad shoulder, particularly when you have to run for your train!


These are the books that I picked up:

Defender by G. X. Todd

the-defender

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it’s dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.


The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

the-ninth-rain

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold.  Now its streets are stalked by wolves.  Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip.  Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out.  Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war.  For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall…


An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

an-act-of-silence

These are the facts I collect.

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar.  She went home with him where they had sex.  They next morning she was found in an allotment.

Mariela is dead.

Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning

Linda Moscow: loving mother to Gabriel.  Linda promised herself years ago that she would never let her son down again.  Even if it means going against everything she believes in – she will do anything to protect him.  She owes him that much.

Gabriel Miller: the prodigal son.  He only ever wanted his mother’s love, but growing up he always seemed to do the wrong thing.  If his mother could only see the bad in him – how could he possibly be good?

How far will a mother go to save her son?  Linda’s decision might save Gabriel, but it will have a catastrophic impact on the lives of others.  What would you do if faced with the same impossible choice?


Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen

gone-without-a-trace

You leave for work one morning.  Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.  His belongings have disappeared.  He hasn’t been at work for weeks.  It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.  Because just as you are searching for him, someone is also watching you.


As well as providing a selection of books for bloggers (and authors!) to help themselves to, goodie bags were also available containing some wonderful little treats, as well as another book!

Keep Me Safe by Daniela Sacerdoti

keep-me-safe

When Anna’s partner walks away from their relationship, she is shattered.  But it is her little girl Ava who takes it hardest of all.  The six-year-old falls silent for three days.  When she does speak, her words are troubling.  Ava wants to go home.  To a place called Seal.  To her other mother.

Anna knows to unravel the mystery she must find Seal and take Ava there.  She hopes this tiny island will unlock her daughter’s memories.  But could it also offer a new life… and unexpected love… for Anna too?


Many thanks to Georgina Moore, Millie Seaward and the rest of the Headline crew for hosting such a lovely event.

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Hay Festival 2015

My first (real) blog post is dedicated to this year’s Hay Festival.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the Hay Festival is a 10 day long literary and arts festival held annually in Hay-on-Wye and has been running for almost 30 years.  This is the third year that I’ve been, and I have every intention of going again next year, and for many years to come.

Location

Hay-on-Wye is a wonderful little town situated on the border of the Brecon Beacons National Park, and is the self-declared town of books.  This moniker is well deserved, for it seems as though every other shop you pass is a book shop, or at least sells books alongside their other items.  My favourites include Richard Booth’s, The Addyman Annexe and Broad Street Book Centre.

There are multiple B&Bs which make it ideal for a weekend getaway, although good luck with reserving a room for the festival – they tend to be booked up at least a year in advance.  That said, you may chance upon a last-minute cancellation.  I don’t even try to get a hotel, and for the last two years I’ve booked a pitch at Wye Meadow Camping, which at least has the benefit of being situated directly across the road from the main festival site.  There are also warm showers, which is a massive win as far as I’m concerned.

Hay-on-Wye has several pubs serving decent beer (if you’re into that sort of thing) as well as the usual wines and spirits.  There are also a number of restaurants serving a range of food from tapas to the obligatory Indian.

All in all, Hay is great place to escape to at any time of year.

The Festival

The Hay Festival is run in May each year, starting on the weekend of the spring bank holiday.  The first day is dedicated to school programs, with a wider range of events launching on the Friday (which still includes several for children).  I’ve only made it to the first weekend so far, but needless to say that the Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days.

The festival has largely the same layout each year (based upon the year’s I’ve attended, at least) and includes several event venues, the festival book shop and a food court.  The festival book shop stocks books by the attending authors, and is where the signings take place after the events have been held.

Events are usually priced at around £8, although this does vary.  Entrance into the festival site itself is free, and you can wander around even if you’re not attending any of the talks.

The Talks

Hay Festival offers a wide variety of events each year, covering topics such as science, politics and economics as well as hosting numerous authors.  The evenings often provide live music and comedy events.

I attended several talks this year, and have picked out some the highlights below:

How to Clone a Mammoth – Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary molecular biologist, discussed the feasibility of cloning species which are now extinct.  If, like me, you’ve dreamed of owning a pet dodo since reading Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, you may have to wait a while yet.  Shapiro delivered her talk in a highly engaging way, and made the complex science easily accessible.

Melissa Harrison and Laline Paull – Melissa Harrison and Laline Paull gave a talk on their novels At Hawthorn Time and The Bees, respectively.

I read The Bees earlier this year, and absolutely loved it.  It’s a highly original piece, set as it is in a somewhat dystopian beehive.  It is Paull’s debut novel, although she has worked as a screenwriter and has written for the theatre prior to producing her novel.  The book has also been shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the winner of which will be announced on 3 June.

I haven’t read At Hawthorn Time yet, although I enjoyed Harrison’s debut, Clay, which I read last year.  Clay was selected for Amazon’s Rising Stars program in 2013, and follows the overlapping lives of four characters linked by a tiny patch of parkland in the middle of a city.  It’s beautifully written, and I’m looking forward to reading Harrison’s latest offering.

No Such Thing as a Fish – The QI Elves recorded their weekly podcast, No Such Thing as a Fish, at this year’s Hay Festival.  This podcast sees four elves sharing the favourite fact that they’ve come across that week, and descends into general chatter.  This was both fascinating and hilarious, and it was wonderful to get a glimpse of the elves that are so often mentioned, yet never seen, on QI.

Conclusion

I’d recommend the Hay Festival to anyone – it offers talks on a broad range of topics, and I think that most people could find something to interest them in the program.  It’s suitable for all age groups, and has several events for children throughout the week, coinciding as it does with half term.

Maybe I’ll see you there one year!