Stratford Literary Festival: Discover New Writers

Festival CakePhil: Stratford Literary Festival is upon us again and looking through the guide, we spotted a few sessions that appealed to the Nolanparker team.

First up was a solo trip to a “Discover New Writers” event for me. Unaccountably, Candice wasn’t able to skive off work on a Wednesday afternoon. This seemed unfair, so I helpfully texted her a picture of the really excellent tea and large slice of delicious cake I enjoyed while waiting for it to start. I’m sure she enjoyed that as much as I did.

The new writers to be discovered were:

Paula Coston – Her book “On the far side” must have required one of the most difficult elevator pitches ever. It revolves around an Englishwoman seeking out a Sinhala boy in Sri Lanka who she sponsors in lieu of having had children herself. There are many themes running through the book with the civil war and it’s settlement being juxtapositioned with the main characters feelings on childlessness.

If I’m honest, I got a bit lost myself with the description but when Paula read from the text, I could see how it would be interesting to watch things develop, the story is partly told in a series of letters between the child and sponsor with the youngster unable to understand how a woman could reach her mid thirties unmarried and unable to understand the importance of cricket.

Charlie Garratt – “A Shadowed Livery” takes a double suicide and murder from Limerick and transplanted it to a little north of where I live in Warwickshire. Set in the last days before the Second World War, it has become a detective novel taking place in a world of political extremism and anti-Semitism.

Rob Sinclair – Strictly speaking, Rob only just squeaked in to this event as his second novel “Rise of the Enemy” was being launched the next day. For those who wanted to be ahead of the game, he’d brought some copies in for sale as well as his debut “Dance with the enemy”. Unlike the others, Rob isn’t (as far as we know) writing from experience as a secret agent or taking inspiration from real events. Instead, he was inspired by dissatisfaction with existing thrillers.

I was keen to talk to Rob as he has self-published his books and learned a lot about the process. We want to pick his brains especially on the publicity front and I’m pleased to say he’s agreed to take part in an interview on this blog in the future so we can all share the experience.

One shock was that he knocks out the first draught of a novel in 2 months – and works part-time as a forensic accountant. Something tells me we need to pull our fingers out!

Paula and Charlie enjoyed a much more traditional route to being published. Paula’s background in publishing was both a help and hindrance in that she endlessly edited the text before sending it off. Both enjoyed quite a bit of support from their publishers, something we are told has vanished in a puff of accountancy but it seems not.

Our small audience enjoyed themselves and the half hour planned session lasted over an hour with plenty of questions afterwards too and (hopefully) some books sold. It was good for the Festival to put this on for free too – how many people will be pleased they were able to make it when some or all of these authors are as big as Brown, Rowling or Archer in the future?


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Filed under Books, Phil, Publishing, Writing

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