This was my first ever literary festival, so I thought that I would give a little run-down of the events I went to, and what it was like!
The Queens of Crime:
This was a talk that focused on two of the greatest female crime-writers: Patricia Highsmith, and Agatha Christie. (Both of whom I adore). The two authors at the event were Sophie Hannah (author of the new Poirot mysteries) and Jill Dawson (author of a fictionalised account of Patricia Highsmith’s life). Both speakers were absolutely brilliant – as you can see, I bought the first Sophie Hannah Poirot right then and there. For a talk about two completely different types of writers, I thought it melded beautifully, and really gave a good overview of crime fiction in general.
The Idiot Brain:
I went to this on a bit of a whim – I had realised that because of changed lecture times I couldn’t make some of the other events that I had wanted to do. I was in the area after the Queens of Crime event finished, and I thought, what the heck! This was a talk about neuroscientist Dean Burnett’s book ‘The Idiot Brain’, which takes an irreverent look at the silly things our brains make us do. This isn’t normally the sort of thing that I go for (when I do read non-fiction I tend towards feminist/sociological things), but I genuinely enjoyed his talk about the reasons for motion sickness, phobias, and hangovers.
The Butcher’s Hook:
This I was really excited for. I had heard really good things about this debut novel from Janet Ellis – mainly from Jen Campbell, whose opinion I trust absolutely implicitly. I had nearly finished the book when I went to the event, which I think was helpful, in this case, because a lot of the talk focused on character motivation and things like that. There was also some discussion of Janet Ellis in general, who was a Blue Peter presenter back in the day. I hadn’t even realised she was famous (oops) so I wasn’t as interested in this, I’ll be honest. However, there was some talk of a potential sequel, which made me absolutely jump for joy. I’ll get around to writing a review of ‘The Butcher’s Hook’ at some point, but let me just say now. It. Is. Brilliant.
Unfortunately I couldn’t make any of the other events – I had been booked to see Little Machine and some of the ‘new fiction’ talks, but university took up too much of my time. I absolutely loved these three events, though – I’ve never met a published author before, so I was absolutely over the moon!
In short: Stratford is great. Literature is great. And I’m ready for my next festival adventure!