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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Finchley Literary Festival 2016

The lion sleeps tonight...


At the 2016 Finchley Literary Festival, I was given the honour of announcing the top three stories from the Greenacre Writers & Finchley Literary Festival Short Story Competition. Judging the twelve shortlisted stories was an absolute pleasure and I read and re-read them many times before making the final choices. You can see the results and read my thoughts here.



Announcing the results...


I read out the winning story, 'The Sender of Second Chances', by Anthea Morrison. James Woolf, who came second, gave a beautiful reading of his haunting 'The Wondwossi Hotel Bar'.

Afterwards, I gave a presentation (part of which will become a future post) about how my shyness stopped being a hindrance when writing fiction gave me the perfect excuse to lock myself away from the world - not quite in a bell tower like Dr Seuss, who was frightened of the children for whom he wrote - and find validity in being a quiet person.

I discussed a variety of research methods, which included the purchase of communist chocolate bars, and the stretching of the imagination beyond the limits of knowledge and experience. I also delved into my endless thoughts on the explosive, raw power of the short story and read an extract from my collection. (A few days later, I was overjoyed to discover that When Planets Slip Their Tracks had been shortlisted for The Rubery Book Award.)

As if I hadn't already had the time of my life, I was also given the opportunity to sign copies of both my books. When I do this, I can never quite believe I really am the author, as if I am doing something illicit.




Me with Rosie Canning...



...and with Lindsay Bamfield

Afterwards, Antonia Honeywell and Rosie Canning gave an entertaining, insightful and sensitive presentation about Orphans in Fiction with readings from some of the classics as well as The Ship, Antonia's debut novel and The Dolls' Hospital, her novel in progress. She talked about the idea that being orphaned in real life is a tragic and frightening situation, whereas in literature it becomes a platform from which the character can aspire to launch a heightened quality of life.

The festival had such a warm atmosphere and the audience was so receptive that, along with the very warm welcome I received from Rosie Canning, Lindsay Bamfield and Carol Sampson  - how good it was to meet you all in real life! - it was a wonderful, uplifting day. Thank you so much.



My East German chocolate

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for the post. And thank you, of course, for attending the festival - especially as it wasn't exactly on your doorstep! We really enjoyed your session and enjoyed meeting you and your family.

    PS. Arnold the Lion is thrilled to be pictured on your blog! He knows there isn't actually a lion in the book - was a bit puzzled about the concept of euphemisms - but thought it was jolly good anyway when he read it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lindsay! I loved Arnold and was glad he got to be the MANE (sorry) attraction. xxx

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  2. Yes, seconding that thank you. A lovely reflective piece. The best bit of the festival is meeting authors and this year was particularly lovely as you Joanna, and the rest of the authors were such a friendly and warm group of writers. Thank you for judging the competition and for taking such time and care to choose the winning stories. Your presentation was so interesting and I look forward to the next blog.

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    1. Thank you very much, Rosie! I had such a good time because all of you were so lovely and welcoming. It was a massive pleasure to prepare and give the presentation and to judge the competition. I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity. xxx

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  3. What a lovely post, Joanna - it sounds like a delightful evening and you look great!

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    1. Thank you, Rosemary. That's very kind. It was a wonderful experience! xxx

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  4. It sounds a lovely event, Joanna and I am very impressed that someone who counts themselves as shy can give a talk. How nice that you were made to feel so welcome.

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    1. Thank you, Wendy. Yes, shyness is a strange thing. As long as I have prepared well, once I'm in front of people, another part of me seems to take over,. I can almost 'hide' behind the performance and the shyness takes a back seat for a while. xxx

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  5. What wonderful news to be shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award, Joanna - congfratulations. It is so well deserved.
    The literary festival sounds lovely and I love the lion :-) xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Teresa. I really was stunned by the news from Rubery. Totally unexpected, but very welcome. I was very touched by the lion being there to welcome me when I arrived, although I might have talked a bit too long because he stayed asleep the whole time. xxx

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