Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Voewood and Australia


Well, September was quite a hectic month (which is why I haven't been keeping on top of this blog, I suppose). I shall try and summarise here... It all kicked off at the end of August with The Voewood Festival...

I don't think anyone was really sure what to expect with the inaugural Voewood Festival. It had been billed as the 'literary garden party of the year', and it promised a truly stunning array of writers, poets, artists and musicians, plus the magnificent Voewood House. I arrived on the Friday evening to find preparations in full swing and the house itself chock-full of fascinating people, some of whom I'd met before but most of whom I hadn't. We were all keeping our fingers crossed that the sun would shine on the festival (August bank holiday sunshine being far from guaranteed) and as it happens it did - we woke on the Saturday to a glorious day. The festival itself was incredible -  high points for me were Diana Athill, Luke Haines and DBC Pierre's Masterclass on 'how to write a book without dying'. I got to deliver a Guardian Masterclass of my own and was uncharacteristically nervous as not only was there a Radio 4 journalist sitting in the audience, but my mother and mother-in-law were also sitting there taking notes. Still, I deconstructed Before I Go to Sleep and tried to give some pointers for the aspiring writers in the audience, and I hope it was useful, or entertaining at least.

I also discussed thriller fiction with the wonderful Rowan Pelling and equally wonderful Sophie Hannah. Sophie has been such a great supporter of Before I Go to Sleep - I think she was one of the first people to read the book and her (genuine, I have to say) enthusiasm for it has been incredible - and it's been a true pleasure and honour to get to know her a little this year (we've now done four events together, I think, though at one of them we didn't actually meet. So make it three...). I was also lucky enough to catch Beth Orton's blissfully relaxing set, though I missed both Adam Ant and David McAlmont as I had to scoot off to pack for...

Australia!


I was lucky enough to be invited to both the Melbourne and Brisbane Writer's Festivals, so I spent the first three weeks of September (actually more like two and a half weeks, once one factors in the inevitable jetlag) in Australia. I'd been to Brisbane before, though that was years ago and on a holiday, but Melbourne was totally new to me and, I have to say, seemed wonderful. I did a couple of events (one of which was with Jennifer Mills whose book, "Gone" I highly recommend), a couple of interviews and signed a few books, and also got to meet the team at Text (who publish Before I Go to Sleep in Australia and New Zealand). On my afternoon off I explored some of the city and found a cow up a tree. Not a real cow, obviously, but the picture's below...







From Melbourne I went to Brisbane, staying first in a 'Writer's Retreat' (where I probably ate far too much and exercised far too little, hence the 'extra mass' pictured right) before the festival itself began. The Brisbane Writer's Festival was another amazing event, with yet another stellar line-up and I was incredibly impressed not only at the variety and calibre of authors who were speaking over the few days, but also how well organised the whole things was. Everyone was in the right place at the right time and it all went very smoothly. I  taught another class, this time on the subject of "preparing for publishing success" (my first piece of advice raised a few smiles - the most important thing to do, I said, if you want to get a novel published, is to write a really really good book. Believe it or not, people sometimes do forget that bit...) and I did some panel events with, amongst others, Max Barry, Christopher Currie, Kate Morton, and Nick Earls (who read a very funny story about Tim Tams which I couldn't possibly repeat, either here or anywhere else). I also met the brilliant Anna Funder, whose non-fiction book, Stasiland, kept me captivated for much of the trip.



From there it was onto Sydney for the final leg of the trip. This was mostly holiday, so I looked around the city, including the Opera House of course, and relaxed. I did an event in a library, and then the final event of the trip was in Shearers Bookstore, where again I was bowled over by everyone's enthusiasm for Before I Go to Sleep. I signed a few copies and then had the pleasure of seeing my name immortalised on the Shearer's sign (see below). It was an amazing, if all too brief, trip, and then it was time to get the plane home...


1 comment:

DEZMOND said...

S.J. the Serbian edition is also out now, check it out:

http://www.alnari.rs/2c3ae170-679b-48ae-bfe6-6cfbfbfa8dec/PRE-NEGO-STO-ZASPIM.aspx