Adam ThorpeSixth formers from St John’s Academy in Marlborough have stepped in to fill a gap in the Marlborough Literature Festival bill left by Adam Thorpe, who had to pull out.
Thorpe, who was educated at Marlborough College and has been shortlisted for several major literary awards, was due to have been talking about On Silbury Hill, a memoir and a tribute to the architects of the ancient monument.
Instead, the St John’s students will be showing a 20-minute film they made about books and reading.
The 20 minute film – edited down from an original 45 minutes – will be screened to a LitFest audience and then a discussion will take place between the student panel, chaired by Richard Lamb, a St John’s English teacher.
The event takes place at St Mary’s Church Hall from 1.30pm on Saturday, October 3.
The Year 12 students were caught on camera by Richard, discussing books and reading in general, although the content also included chat on austerity measures by the government such as cutbacks to public libraries.
Freya Pigott, St John’s sixth former and co-organiser, said: "It's crucial that young people are involved in events such as Marlborough Lit Fest, as so often young people go unheard.
“This year we've organised a film of sixth form students discussing things from their favourite reads to the controversy of watching a film before the book, reforms of GCSE English to whether books being gendered is necessary… It's a really intriguing project that should prove to be very interesting for those wanting an insight into the minds of students."
This initiative is a follow up to some digital book vlogs created by St John’s students from Years 8, 9 and 10 and co-ordinated by digital content director Terence O’Connor.
In this project, the students filmed ten short video segments where they discussed the books they were currently reading or had read.
Recorded and edited on their phones or with Apple computers, these candid videos capture the teen voices and can be viewed on the LitFest website at www.marlboroughlitfest.org/digital-diaries
Alex Hourston and Jemma WayneThe annual Marlborough festival of Literature Hiscox Young Authors In Conversation event will take place at on Sunday, October 4 from noon in the Merchant’s House.
The conversation will be from two authors, Alex Hourston and Jemma Wayne, discussing their debut novels in what promises to be a refreshing and insightful event.
Wayne’s novel, After Before, and Hourston’s In My House explore in different ways the thorny, complex but often necessary relationship between women who, for wildly differing reasons, find themselves detached from life and perhaps themselves.
Hourston, who left a career in advertising before writing her novel says that her protagonist, the 57 year old Maggie, and her dog-walking friends are ‘outsiders by choice’, adding that perhaps her attraction to writing such characters was a ‘sort of subconscious rejection’ of the West End world of media that she was so used to.
Maggie’s measured way of living and her wilful rejection of intimacy is thrown into disarray when her life suddenly becomes entangled with that of a teenager. Anja, the Albanian girl Maggie helps escape from being trafficked, enters her life in a way that unexpectedly and irrevocably alters both of them.
Their claustrophobic, uncomfortable, but blossoming friendship reveals the ultimate impossibility of hemming in emotions and shutting oneself off from the messiness of life and love. With Anja’s presence, Maggie’s life-defining secret, over which she has been plagued with guilt, eventually emerges.
Contained within In My House are many fascinating ideas about character and the self, which should make for a dynamic conversation at the Merchant’s House.
Hourston tells me that the idea of Maggie arose from a discussion between her mother and brother-in-law over whether human character is innate or far more fluid, liable to be revised, reworked and transformed many times over one’s lifetime. She also explains that writing Maggie felt ‘less invention and more discovery’.
Maggie’s secret revealed itself to Hourston unexpectedly, as if she felt the answer ‘leap from the page’ She describes the moment as ‘truly beautiful… and one that has never been repeated since, but does support the idea that plot, at best, arises from character’.
Jemma Wayne’s After Before also explores the interweaving of different lives and the power of unlikely friendship. She portrays with great perception the plight of three very different women thrown together by circumstance and all barely existing on the verge of both their lives and society.
In the same way as In My House, outward appearances of a grey existence are disguising scenes of desperation, and sometimes pure horror. Again, as in In My House, the female characters all struggle with painful re-livings of their past, or ‘Before’, that they would much rather keep contained.
Both haunting and evocatively describing the haunted, this novel explores the inescapable nature of one’s ‘before’ and the redeeming and regenerative potential of friendship. A thoroughly bold and powerful novel, this is Wayne’s first after a background in journalism.
With such daring new novels, the event should be an hour of innovative and stimulating discussion, with the chance to listen to and interact with two exciting upcoming authors.
For ticket details log on to www.marlboroughlitfest.org
Andrew OHagan © Tricia Malley Ross Gillespie broaddaylightltd Marlborough LitFest author Andrew O’Hagan, has just been longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize for his fifth novel, The Illuminations.
Out of 13 authors on the longlist (known as the ‘Man Booker Dozen’), Scottish novelist O’Hagan is one of only three UK authors – this is the second year the £50,000 prize has been open to any writer, writing originally in English and published in the UK, irrespective of nationality.
The shortlist of six books will be unveiled in September with the winner announced in October. The judging panel initially had to read 156 novels to reach their longlist decision.
Marlborough LitFest focuses on the best in excellent writing, championing new, upcoming authors as well as established names. An eclectic line-up for the sixth annual Festival from 2 to 4 October offers a mix of fiction and non-fiction, poetry, children’s events and creative writing workshops for adults and teenagers with over 20 events taking place during the festival weekend.
LitFest chairman Jan Williamson, said: “We’re delighted for Andrew’s longlist nomination for the 2015 Man Booker Prize – one of the most prestigious literary awards there is. The Illuminations is a very fine book and we look forward to welcoming him to Marlborough in October.”
Andrew will be appearing on Sunday, October 4 at 1.30pm at the Town Hall, Marlborough. Tickets cost £8.
Nick Fogg Vanessa Lafaye and Mavis Cheek There was a very special book launch at Marlborough’s White Horse Bookshop this evening (Thursday) when hot-off-the-press copies of the Marlborough LitFest brochure were presented to festival supporters and sponsors.
The event also marked tickets going on sale – and they’re expected to sell like proverbial hot cakes.
Among the guests were two novelists who met for the first time: Mavis Cheek, author of 15 novels and founder of the LitFest, and Vanessa Lafaye, whose debut novel Summertime has been collecting plaudits, including a place on Richard and Judy’s summer 2015 Book Club list.
Big names at this year’s event include bestselling author of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels, Alexander McCall Smith, prizewinning novelist Helen Dunmore, historical biographer and novelist Alison Weir, children’s author Ian Whybrow, and National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke.
Festival chairman Jan Williamson with sponsors Stephen Depla and Myles Palmer of Brewin Dolphin and jeweller Peter PageBAFTA-award winning director Peter Kosminsky will be in discussion with Channel 4’s Jon Snow about the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novels of Wolf Hall, the Golding Speaker is Salley Vickers, and the Big Town Read author Rachel Joyce.
A far more comprehensive list can be found in our previous feature here.
Twenty five events will place over the weekend of October 2 to 4. Tickets and programme catalogues are available from The White Horse Bookshop, Marlborough High Street, or Pound Arts at www.poundarts.org.uk
Further information is available on the LitFest website at www.marlboroughlitfest.org