The second talk of the BookBlast® 10×10 tour, a nationwide celebration of independent publishing, features Kevin Duffy, founder of Bluemoose Books, based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Prizewinning writers include Benjamin Myers, Michael Stewart and Adrian Barnes. He will be in conversation with Dan Micklethwaite and Colette Snowden, and the talk has as its theme The Northern Influence on Culture @waterstonesNewc
Dan Micklethwaite is an award-winning short story author and novelist who does most of his writing in a shed in West Yorkshire. His debut novel was shortlisted for The Guardian’s “Not the Booker Prize” in 2016.
Book extract: The Less than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote. Meet the author in person on Weds 12 Sept. @Dan_M_Writer
“Nobody had ever accused Donna Crick-Oakley of being adventurous. A slut, yes. A thickie. A dreamer. A quiet one. A fat bitch (before she lost weight). A skinny bitch (after). A nutter. A swot. A stick-in-the-mud. An accident waiting to happen. A cry-baby. A silly cow. A giant waste of time.
All of the above, but never adventurous.The fact was, when given a choice between real life and books, Donna Crick-Oakley chose books every time. Of course, she hadn’t sprung forth from the womb being able to read, and had never devoted the entirety of her days to the practice. It was more the case that when real life disappointed her she selected certain stories as her preferred location of retreat.
The other kids hadn’t liked that she always seemed to get more fun from paper than she ever did from them. And other adults didn’t seem to like it, either.
At least, Kirk hadn’t seemed to.
But she kept on choosing books.
She chose books because they never left her lonely the way that Kirk had left her lonely. Because company was often nothing of the kind, whereas a good book always was. She chose books for the smell of fresh-pressed pages, or for the yellow-brown musk of library mould, but always for the breathy kiss of paper rustling. She chose books because some of them held prose that made her weep, or poetry that winded her, and words that made her heart skip beats. she chose books because some came ready-made with characters that seemed like perfect versions of herself, all of them little proofs that somehow, somewhere, it might just be possible for her to be better: to be popular, powerful, sexy and smart. She chose books because they lied to her with more conviction than real people ever had.
Her flat, in a tower block, was full of them.
Three thousand, four hundred and seventy-two of them.
Mostly fairy tale, fantasy, medieval romance and myth.”
Manchester-born, Colette Snowden is a journalist. Her debut novel was Mumsnet Book of the month and chosen as a Brave New Reads 2016.
Book extract: The Secret to not Drowning. Meet the author in person on Weds 12 Sept @colette_snowden
“On Mondays I swim. He knows I’ve been swimming because He can smell the chlorine on my skin. He knows how long it takes me to drive to the pool, pay myself in, get changed, swim forty lengths, wash my hair, get dressed and come home. He hears my key in the door and shouts hello from the living room.
“Good swim?” He says.
“Yes,” I say. “The pool was busy tonight though,” I say. Or something like that.
Then he watches me as I take my wet towel and swimming costume out of my swimming bag. He gets up from the sofa.
“I’ll put that in the washing machine for you,” He says and comes over and takes them out of my hand. He checks to see that they are wet. He kisses me on the cheek and checks for the smell of chlorine on my skin.
“See anyone you know?” He asks. He means, “Did you speak to anyone?”, or “Did you meet up with someone?” or “Have you been fucking someone in the changing rooms?” I know what He means, He doesn’t need to say it aloud. And I find myself feeling guilty and wondering if maybe I have looked at someone with a bit more interest than I should have done. Perhaps He’s had someone go to the swimming pool to check up on me and make sure I’m not having some sort of aquatic affair that survives on a one-hour poolside liaison a week. But I know I’ve just been swimming and thinking and counting the lengths and watching the clock and taking note of my fellow swimmers – the regulars and the once-in-a blue-mooners. I know I’ve done nothing that even He could reproach me for. But still I panic that I won’t be able to justify myself.
So I think of something to tell Him. I say “The old woman with the tattoo was there today. People should think about what their tattoos will look like when they’re all old and wrinkly before they have them done.” Or I say, “There was a pair of fat women there who swam about two lengths then just chatted at the side of the pool. What’s the point of that? They could have just walked to the pub and got more exercise!””