It's not just a book thing!
Wednesday evening at the Guille-Alles Reading Group was a chance to discuss works by Litfest authors over wine and crisps. It was a nice, relaxed occasion and a great opportunity to share tips and plan which events to attend.
Then on Thursday afternoon I attended my first workshop of the festival a two hour poetry masterclass with David Charleston, who has also brought his bookshop, Open Road Books, with him to the festival. It was an enjoyable couple of hours with a nice mix of readings, discussion and exercises. Everyone in attendance came away having written something new, which is what these events are all about.
By Friday afternoon, it was time for a visit to The Hub – its soft white walls and the gentle hum of the generator are now synonymous with the Litfest. And it was packed to see Oggy Boytchev speak about his career with the BBC, working alongside John Simpson and travelling to some of the most dangerous places on earth. As well as giving an insight into the realities of trying to report from conflict zones, he also spoke knowledgeably about the political situation in various countries, including those that reporters are unable to get in to and report from.
In between talks I spent some time checking out both the festival book shop, which stocks titles by a number of the authors appearing over the weekend, and the Open Road bookshop, which has a fantastic stock of second hand titles. Inevitably, I ended up spending money at both.
It is, however, completely free to look at the book bench inspired by The Book Of Ebenezer Le Page, which is stationed outside the library. And inside the library is another free event, The Art of The Graphic Novel: Adapted & Inspired – an exhibition that does a fantastic job of illustrating the process of creating panels for a graphic novel, and also introduces a number of interesting looking pieces of work.
Back to The Hub, which was again nearly at capacity to hear Will Smith discuss his novel Mainlander, set in Jersey. Will grew up in Jersey and has spent most of his life so far writing comedy, working on television shows like The Thick Of It and Veep, however he admitted to being surprised that his reading from Mainlander drew some laughs from the crowd. Accepting questions from the crowd, he was (I think) amused rather than annoyed by questions about his comedy career rather than his book. He may just have been pleased that he wasn’t lynched for being from Jersey.
Charismatic Danish crime author Jussi Adler-Olsen is next up in The Hub – and again there are few spare seats. In an entertaining hour, Maggie Falla grilled Jussi on everything from his childhood growing up in various psychiatric hospitals (his father was a doctor), the whole week he spent as a lookout whilst a scout and his hobby of renovating houses (this is what he does to keep fit!). Though I have not read any of the novels in Jussi’s Department Q series (yet), hearing him talk about the way he creates his work was very interesting.