Books · Jottings · Witterings

Authors in October – Part 2

Are you all back and refreshed from a tea break. Did you indulge in some biscuits? I did, books and tea lead to biscuits…

Katherine McMahon

So I am back in the second row and this time it is just Guy on the stage and Katherine McMahon who I met and heard speak back in April. Guy had found out (from the internet) that she is friends with Mary Portas and met her at Am Dram some years ago. Katherine confirmed this, and proceeded to point out the bags, necklaces etc that Mary had tried to bring Katherine more fashionably up to date. That’s what friends are for of course! I hope Katherine gives Mary books to read.

The theme for this conversation was forgotten books, and Katherine had obviously spent some time thinking about this and had pulled books off her shelf so she could remind herself and us of some of them. Rereading Jane Austen throughout her life has given her a different slant on the books as time has passed. For different times of your life the books resonate in different ways. That is something which I have found to be true when my reading takes different paths depending on the mood I am in and what else is going on in my life at the time.

But instead of concentrating on what could be called the classics as forgotten gems, Katherine recalled:

One Pair of Hands – Monica Dickens (Katherine is convinced this is where Julian Fellowes got all his ideas for Downton from! – recommendation then!)

One Pair of Feet – Monica Dickens

Jigsaw – Sybille Bedford

Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri (Short stories, which Katherine described as like full novels)

Dusty Answer – Rosamond Lehman

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith (This book got a loud murmur of recognition in the theatre, and one I must get round to reading, perhaps a challenge for 2013?)

Katherine is another author who immerses herself in the world she is writing about and cannot read other fiction without the possible effect it may have on her work. Katherine is slowly coming to terms with being classed as a historical fiction writer, and I think she accepts this title reluctantly but accepts the one as being just an author the easiest to swallow. She has a full day as a writer, writing from 8-6 most days, and is slowly trying to embrace the world of social media and combining it with being an author although, I think after what might be called a Freudian slip it may be awhile before we see her back on Twitter.

Blogging is useful when you see something and you simply want to point out something and share with everyone. It is those occasions when you read or experience something that you want to tell others all about it. Blogs are great for that.  But perhaps that is what 2013 will bring to the publisher world. Katherine thinks and again she has a valid point, that the future of such an industry and authors is in the hands of us the readers. Keep reading they need us. Katherine  wrote about readers’ and the readers’ day on her blog – sharing the reading experience.

Can we have a round of applause please and lets bring on the next two authors

Clare Clark, who Guy could find nothing about on the internet, which was an achievement more than finding something. (I have purposely not put a photo of Clare up, to aid to the mystery – but they are readily available on the web if you search) And Roma Tearne, who is not just an author but an artist and film maker as well. And for the record plenty can be found about her on the internet. Clare is another author who fits into the historical fiction genre and one again, who is taking her time getting used to this pigeon holing. Sage nods from Katherine in the audience. I digress here to mention that some of the authors stayed to listen to their colleagues (if you will) and how much they were enraptured with what they were saying and also taking book recommendation notes. That really was something which I found most respectful and enlightening as a reader. We are all readers, despite our jobs!

Clare was great to listen to and I was really interested to hear about her story from working for an advertising agency, moving to New York , having two children and writing novels. She has packed a lot in to life and has a rather wry view on being a mother!

Clare also found it challenging to pick some desert island books. Do you take a kindle and therefore take lots and lots of books. Clare is a fast reader in this format, and can ‘consume’ books quickly. Do you take books you have never read or tackled like some Tolstoy and Proust (her choice not mine!) Or do you take something familiar and comforting. Roma Tearne was of a similar outlook and would take anything by Virginia Woolf.  The books that were mentioned:

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry (A large tome which is looking at me from my bookshelf) was one of Clare’s choices.

The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

I have read neither of these authors, and did not recognise the name of Roma Tearne. I did have Savage Lands by Clare Clark on my shelf for a long time and tried more than once to read it, but I could not get into it. Perhaps I need to try her new novel Beautiful Lies, set in Jubilee year, financial uncertainty, riots and scandals aplenty. But it is not 2012 it is 1887 and Victorian London. Certainly piques my interest.

Roma Tearne

Roma’s new novel The Road to Urbino, a book set in London , Italy and Sri Lanka. The author having personal knowledge of Sri Lanka as she came to this country from there with her family when she was 10. This book meant a lot to the author as she took one theme of it, one strand and made a short film which was shown earlier this year. It was an interesting take on how an author sees their own work and what they can visualise. Sometimes it is left for others to bring the words to the screen, if it is lucky enough to be chosen to be made into the film. I think ‘option’ is the term used here.

Not having read the author’s work brings a different slant when you are listening to the talk. You are a blank page and what I liked the most about these two authors, was that there was no hard sell, there was no you must read my book or else about it. They have great respect for readers. Food for thought perhaps.

And it is that point where we break for lunch. Yum! A range of sandwiches, chicken and fruit. I topped this up rather naughtily with a wonderful slab of chocolate cake and a huge mug of tea!

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