Wednesday, December 14th 2011 : "Newcastle Winter Book Festival"
The last weekend of November saw the Newcastle Winter Book Festival. This began in 2010 as a very modest affair in Newcastle Central Library, but it was clear even then that there was an appetite for an event to celebrate books and reading in the city. In 2011 Andy Peden-Smith of Northumbria Press took over the programming and the festival spread to other venues - the magnificent Lit & Phil and the Star and Shadow Cinema in Byker, though many events remained in the stylish City Library. The planning started ridiculously late in the day but he persuaded some big names to come along - politician Tam Dalyell, poet Liz Lochhead, Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers, scriptwriter Michael Chaplin (whose adaptation of JUST HENRY will be ITV's Christmas blockbuster) and the fantastic local author David Almond.
I enjoyed the festival because it was different. There was one themed day - Saturday was Crime on Tyne - but the rest was a mix of artists and writers, locals and guests. I've appeared at a number of Literature Festivals and each has its own flavour. I hope NWBF will remain individual, quirky, passionate and fun. Plans for 2012 (and 2013) are already underway.
My favourite event of 2011 was Liz Carling's reading of The Habit of Silence in the Lit & Phil. It was the last gig of the festival to be held there, and so already there was a party atmosphere, a conceptual sigh of relief that nothing major had gone wrong. An intimate audience, wine, late afternoon and already dark outside. Liz turned an ordinary story into a spell-binding, spine-tingling experience. Everyone present felt they'd been part of something very special.
Now it's nearly Christmas. The first draft of my new Shetland book (working title DEAD WATER) is with my agent. There'll be a busy year ahead, beginning with the launch of THE GLASS ROOM in February, so this is an opportunity for a break from work, a time to spend with family and friends. I send everyone my very best wishes of the season and hope that your stockings will be packed with wonderful books.
Posted by Ann at 10:59 AM GMT