Time to catch my breath…

Well it is now 11th July and the Bradford Literature Festival has been and gone. The Festival Hub (aka the ‘tent’ or the ‘bouncy book castle’) has been deflated, we’ve waved goodbye to our coffee cart (leaky drip-tray and all) and the tactical paddling pool outside the back in the shade and moved all the blue crates of books back to the store. Where they are now being made into a big, blue fort as is traditional…There will be a lot more work to do before everything is back to normal but, in the meantime, here are a few of the events I managed to get pictures of.

First up was A A Dhand’s book launch for City of Sinners. I’ve already reviewed the book so here is a shot of the crowd (I didn’t get one of the moment where Amit’s young son crawled onto his lap during a description of a body hanging from our lovely roof ) and one of the chocolates he left us to give away with signed copies over the rest of the weekend. We’ve done launch events for all three books now and each one just gets better.

On the first Saturday I did a bookstall at the University for an event with David Starkey – a very interesting and well-attended talk on Henry VIII as the first Brexiteer. Sunday was spent in the store where we had a variety of children’s events. They featured dinosaurs and astronauts but our favourite, as you can see, was The Wilbies go to the Moon because we got to meet Minnie Winnie – the heroine of the story. She may be a wonder of science, being Britain’s first cloned dog, but she also loved cuddles and was wonderful with the children as well as with booksellers…

Sadly our main event on Monday was cancelled since the author had been unable to board a flight from Canada. I had planned to do a bookstall on Tuesday too – for the splendid Suzi Quatro – but she had her own merchandiser with her (after all, she’s been touring for years…) so I was able to get home and watch the football. From between my fingers but I still watched it! I had a couple of days off so missed a great CND event in the shop on Wednesday – jazz band and all!

20180707_113431The second Saturday was a combination of ‘Under the Sea’ day in City Park (which probably explains the giant lobster) and Brontës in the Midland Hotel. I was at the Midland but didn’t get inside the events until the evening when I totally failed to get any photos of Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Jeanette Winterson and Michael Stewart talking about the Brontë Stones Project. Far too busy trying to keep up with demand for book sales – what did I expect with that line-up!

 

Finally, on the last day we had another round of children’s authors in the shop – featuring a monster who was afraid of a scary story, some puffins called Steve, a Fairytale Hairdresser and a spider called Sarah. But we finished off with the excellent Matty Long in the Super Happy Magic Forest. Or, in my case, a Super Happy Magic Literature Festival!

It was all brilliant and, once we’ve all had a rest, we’ll start looking forward to next year…

Jane

 

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City of Sinners – A A Dhand

I’ve never had an urge to be famous. I enjoyed acting when I was at school and university but the whole idea of being recognised wherever I went sounds horrid, to be honest. I’m happy that my friends, family and colleagues know who I am and, maybe, that the posts I do for my place of work’s social media (under the store name, not mine) make people laugh, think or want to read a particular book: anything more would be a bit much. But, when a local author opens his latest crime thriller with a body discovered in my actual place of work and asks if it is okay to call the bookseller who discover the body ‘Jane’ then, of course, it would be rude not to say ‘yes’….

36634147City of Sinners is the third outing for unconventional Bradford detective Harry Virdee. He’s used to dealing with murders but this time there are some very odd things about the body – how did a young female bookseller end up hanging from the rafters of a bookshop set in a Victorian wool trading hall, who killed her and why are her eyes both sewn closed and yet still moving….Soon there are more bodies (all female) and Harry can’t work out how they are linked. But when a young student goes missing it soon becomes apparent that she is not yet dead because she is the daughter of the Home Secretary. Harry’s boss needs to transfer the case to a specialist unit but the killer declares he will only deal with Harry: it seems that this case is very, very personal.

This is Bradford Noir at its best. With a real sting in the tail and twistier than barbed wire – don’t miss it (even if just for the cameo role by a real live bookseller….).

Jane

P.S. If you want to meet the creator of Harry Virdee the book will be launched as part of Bradford Literature Festival on Friday 29th June. If you are very good maybe I’ll sign the book for you too – after all, I’m famous now…

 

Bradford Literature Festival – the beginning

This year’s literature festival is well underway now – I think we have all been working flat-out since Monday when the first 80 totes of stock arrived in the shop. Since then we have booked in huge amounts of stock, built a whole pop-up bookshop in an inflatable tent, hosted a sold-out event in store and done two full days of bookstalls to support author events at up to three different sites a day. Phew. I’ve not been able to see many of the talks – having to man the bookstall – but so far the festival has discussed Jane Austen (her life and times, influences on contemporary literature around the world and the delightfully titled ‘Disrobing Mr Darcy. I did sneak in and listen to a few minutes of that last one…), monogamy, djinns in fiction and psychology, geo-engineering, politics, mythologies and fairy tales and cricket. When they say this festival has something for everyone they really mean it….

20170630_190826As I say I haven’t been able to see many events but I was working for the sold-out event with David Crystal on Friday night – there was certainly a lot of love for a man described as the foremost writer and lecturer on the English Language – and he was a very lovely chap with an impressive beard. There were a lot of younger audience members and I suspect that Crystal’s own eloquence (the subject of his talk) and ability to make grammar, punctuation and the english language generally clear mean that he has helped a lot of young people make it through GCSE and A Level exams…

What makes the Bradford Literature Festival special to me is a combination of the audiences – who are as diverse and engaging as the speakers – the authors and the volunteers. Yesterday I met one of the helpers, a young Italian girl called Ciara, who has come to the UK just to volunteer for this festival. She is staying with a host family and enjoying using her excellent english language skills. I was in awe – I don’t think I could have done that at 18! It has also been amazing to watch some of the local authors move on from small panel events last year (four panelists and about a dozen attendees) to filling the biggest venues this year. Just watch out for A. A. Dhand’s Harry Virdee novels is all I’m saying…

20170702_180217.jpgFinally I did get into a bit of a discussion with some of the authors appearing at events in Bradford college yesterday. What is the correct collective noun for a group of authors? 20170702_180228.jpgAnd is it different from the one for a group of authors doing their best dinosaur impressions (it had been a long day by then…)? Any ideas? Or maybe we should ask David Crystal? – I bet he’s cool enough to know…

Jane