Interview | Jenny Lewis, poet

Meet Jenny Lewis in person at the tenth and final BookBlast 10×10 Tour talk at  Waterstones, Manchester, Deansgate @waterstonesMCR 6.30 p.m. Thursday 8 November. Theme: Claiming the Great Tradition: Women Recalibrate the Classics. In conversation with Michael Schmidt @Carcanet, chair, and poet & translator, Jane Draycott. Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Pembury, Kent and grew up in London.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
Milton, in his Areopagitica, advises us to read “promiscuously” and, as a somewhat lonely, post-war London child, I did just that, reading voraciously anything I could lay my hands on from my grandmother’s leather bound classics (Shakespeare, Dickens, Tennyson …); dictionaries; encyclopedias; my father’s old medical books; the modern novels I found on my mother’s bedside table (The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham, A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute) to children’s books such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, comics (The Beano, The Dandy) and, of course, Kellogg’s Cornflakes packets and, most memorably, tins of Tate & Lyle’s Golden Syrup with the picture of a lion surrounded by bees and the legend “Out of the strong came forth sweetness” which puzzled me. Was the lion dead or just sleeping and why were the bees swarming over him? One of life’s great moments was when I realized there were such things as libraries where there were thousands of books to be borrowed. From then on, I half lived in the Hammersmith Library near where we lived.
Continue reading Interview | Jenny Lewis, poet

Guest Post | Susan Curtis @Istros_books | Belgrade Book Fair 2018

The opening ceremony of Belgrade Book Fair took place on Sunday 21 October, officially commencing one of the biggest publishing events of the region. There is no doubt that Serbia takes pride in this annual gathering of publishers and public, now in its 63rd year, with the writer and Academician Matija Bećković comparing readers’ attendance of the fair to worshippers in a church. Between his opening speech and that of the representative of the Guest of Honour – this year Morocco, the first Arab nation to have this accolade – the public was treated to performances from the opera singer Jasmina Trumbetaš Petrović, accompanied on piano. Continue reading Guest Post | Susan Curtis @Istros_books | Belgrade Book Fair 2018

Latest News | The BookBlast 10×10 Tour in association with Waterstones

Hello, hello!

Since we hit the road on 11 September, we still have 3 events to go, storytelling and showcasing small, risk-taking publishers who fill a unique niche in discovering talent, enriching our literary culture.

Looking back, I spent a good chunk of the end of last year and the beginning of this one planning and fund raising for the 10×10 tour, with the invaluable support and technical expertise of Ben Fiagbe. Connie Jehu came on board over the summer to collaborate in implementing our plan, while Sue Amaradivakara from the PR Collective began to promote the tour across national and local media. Interviews were done with Robert Elms for BBC Radio London, Monocle 24 Radio, Bookanista, The Bookseller, LoveReading and others. Continue reading Latest News | The BookBlast 10×10 Tour in association with Waterstones

BookBlast® 10×10 Tour | Thurs 1 Nov., Waterstones, Liverpool | Roh-Suan Tung, Yan Ge, Nicky Harman

The ninth talk of the BookBlast® 10×10 tour, a nationwide celebration of independent publishing, @waterstonesl1 College Lane, Liverpool, L1 3DL features Balestier Press, founded in 2014: “Much diversity from Asian translated literature remains to be explored.” Roh-Suan Tung publishes award-winning literature in translation, young-adult fiction, and picture books.

On Thurs. 1 November at 6.30 p.m., Roh-Suan Tung @BalestierPress will chair the discussion with @YanGeMay and @NickyHarman_cn @waterstonesl1 The talk has as its theme, #MeToo Moments: men misbehaving in China.

Book Tickets

“Chilli bean paste was big business, had been for Gran’s family for four or five generations. Sichuan peppers, on the other hand, were the sort of thing any small trader could sell. All they needed was a place to set up their stall. But, humble though the trade was, the Sichuan pepper was as essential as chilli bean paste at all Pingle Town dinner tables [. . .] Dad had kicked around the chilli bean paste factory for over twenty years, learning the ins and outs of his trade under the tutelage of his shifu, Chen, and if it had taught him one thing, it was that people were born to sweat. You ate chilli bean paste, and Sichuan peppers, and ma-la spicy hotpot, to work up a good sweat, and screwing a girl made you sweat even more. The more you sweated, the happier you felt, Dad reckoned. He remembered the fiery heat that the sweat-soaked bed-sheets in Baby Girl’s house gave off.”

Read a review of Yan Ge’s novel, The Chilli Bean Paste Clan HERE

bookblast roh-suan tung balestier pressMeet the publisher in person on Thurs 1 Nov.

“Writing is a reflection of real human life and what we care about,” Roh-Suan Tung.

The BookBlast® Diary interview is HERE

 

 

yan ge bookblast diary interviewMeet the author in person on Thurs 1 Nov.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: “A novel I’ve been working on for four years. It is set in a fictional town, Pingle, in the southwest of China. It’s the third book of my trilogy of Pingle Town. The Chilli Bean Paste Clan is the second one. The first one is a coming of age novel called May Queen,” Yan Ge.

The BookBlast® Diary interview is HERE

bookblast nicky harmanMeet the translator in person on Thurs 1 Nov.

Q: Why do you translate?
A: “I love the language, and writing. When things go well, I feel I’m opening a window on another world for readers and that’s a great privilege,” Nicky Harman.

The BookBlast® Diary interview is HERE

 

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BookBlast® 10×10 Tour | Thurs 25 Oct., Waterstones, Birmingham | Elizabeth Briggs, Nafeesa Hamid, Aliyah Holder

The eighth talk of the BookBlast® 10×10 tour, a nationwide celebration of independent publishing, features Saqi Books @BhamWaterstones Founded in 1983 in London, Saqi Books is an independent publishing house of quality general interest and academic books on North Africa and the Middle East. Over the years Saqi has expanded its list to include writers from all over the world and has established two imprints, Telegram and The Westbourne Press.

 On Thurs. 25 October at 6.30 p.m., Elisabeth Briggs, editor & marketing manager @SaqiBooks will chair the discussion with Nafeesa Hamid and Aliyah Holder @BhamWaterstones The talk has as its theme, The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write inspired by the anthology edited by Sabrina Mahfouz in which their writing is featured.

Contributors to The Things I Would Tell You include: Fadia Faqir, Amina Jama, Chimene Suleyman, Aliyah Hasinah Holder, Kamila Shamsie, Imtiaz Dharker, Triska Hamid, Nafeesa Hamid, Ahdaf Soueif, Seema Begum, Leila Aboulela, Shazea Quraishi, Shaista Aziz, Miss L, Aisha Mirza, Hibaq Osman, Azra Tabassum, Selma Dabbagh, Asma Elbadawi, Samira Shackle, Sabrina Mahfouz, Hanan al-Shaykh. Continue reading BookBlast® 10×10 Tour | Thurs 25 Oct., Waterstones, Birmingham | Elizabeth Briggs, Nafeesa Hamid, Aliyah Holder

Interview | Elizabeth Briggs, editor & marketing manager, Saqi Books | Indie Publisher of the Week

Meet in person the indie publisher, Elizabeth Briggs, from Saqi Books, at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Birmingham, 24-26 High Street, B4 7SL  @Bhamwaterstones 6.30 p.m. Thursday 25 October. Theme: The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write with reference to the anthology edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. With poets Nafeesa Hamid and Aliyah Holder. Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Worcester, where I lived until I left for university in the North East of England at seventeen. Determined as ‘Britain’s most average constituency’ by the BBC last year, it’s not bad coming from a city whose place on the international stage is thanks to a great sauce and Edward Elgar.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts. I was very lucky. We had these incredible encyclopedias of animals from around the world, which I used to spend hours pouring over and copying the pictures. They were shelved alongside an illustrated bible, which I didn’t think at all odd at the time. It never occurred to me as a child that people took stories from the old testament as gospel: I thought they were wild and strange fantasy at the time – violent and bloody, the kind of things I wasn’t allowed to watch on TV. My dad also has an astonishing collection of moldy orange Penguin original paperbacks, bought back when they cost 85p each. I used to read a lot of Agatha Christie. I also have two older sisters so could borrow their books too. I read The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst when it first came out (I was twelve at the time), which was eye-opening.
Continue reading Interview | Elizabeth Briggs, editor & marketing manager, Saqi Books | Indie Publisher of the Week

Interview | Nafeesa Hamid, poet | @NafeesaHamid

Meet Nafeesa Hamid in person at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Birmingham, 24-26 High Street, B4 7SL  @Bhamwaterstones 6.30 p.m. Thursday 25 October. Theme: The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write with reference to the anthology edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. In conversation with Elizabeth Briggs SAQI BOOKS chair, and poet, Aliyah Holder. Book Tickets

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Pakistan and came to the UK at aged four. I grew up in Alum Rock, inner city Birmingham where I lived until nineteen. There was (and still is) a massive sense of community in Alum Rock, which is lovely for the most part, but also means everyone knows everything about everyone. I attended school in Alum Rock – Shaw Hill Primary and Park View Secondary (involved heavily in the Trojan Horse Scandal).
Continue reading Interview | Nafeesa Hamid, poet | @NafeesaHamid

BookBlast® 10×10 Tour | Thurs 18 Oct., Waterstones, Bristol Galleries, 6.30 p.m. Rosemarie Hudson, Peter Kalu, Qaisra Sharaz @hoperoadpubl @waterstones262

The sixth talk of the BookBlast® 10×10 tour, a nationwide celebration of independent publishing, features Rosemarie Hudson, founder of HopeRoad Publishing, (African & Caribbean writing), based in West London.

rosemarie hudson hoperoad piublishing bookblast diary interview HopeRoad promotes inclusive literature with a focus on Africa, Asia and the Caribbean; and vigorously supports often neglected voices. Many of HopeRoad’s YA titles focus on issues dealing with identity, cultural stereotyping and disability. The talk has as its theme Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. Book Tickets HERE

Peter Kalu is the Manchester-based author of three CYA novels: Silent Striker, Being Me and Zombie XI. Silent Striker is a semi-autobiographical novel that has as one of its themes how the world of a teen boy, Marcus, changes when he finds himself becoming deaf. Marcus appears as a side character in Being Me which features as main protagonist the neuro-atypical, Adele Vialli. He has written nine novels in all, including science fiction, crime and comedy; he has also written for the stage and screen. He has won prizes including the BBC / Contact dangerous Comedy Award and The Kodak Short Film Pitch Award. Continue reading BookBlast® 10×10 Tour | Thurs 18 Oct., Waterstones, Bristol Galleries, 6.30 p.m. Rosemarie Hudson, Peter Kalu, Qaisra Sharaz @hoperoadpubl @waterstones262

Interview | Peter Kalu, author

Meet Peter Kalu in person at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Bristol Galleries: 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead BS1 3XD 6.30 p.m. Thursday 18 October. Theme: Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. In conversation with Rosemarie Hudson, HopeRoad Publishing, (chair), and author Qaisra Shahraz. Book Tickets

What is your favorite quality?  Brevity.

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?  Earth. Ditto.

What sorts of books were in your family home? Paper ones.

Who were early formative influences as a writer? Tom & Jerry.

Do you write every day, and do you write many drafts? Yes. Yes.

As an author, what are you most proud (or embarrassed) of writing? Words. (Words).

Books that changed your life? Cicero: Murder Trials.

Your views on book publishing? Vague.
Continue reading Interview | Peter Kalu, author

Interview | Qaisra Shahraz, author

Meet Qaisra Shahraz in person at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Bristol Galleries: 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead BS1 3XD 6.30 p.m. Thursday 18 October. Theme: Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. In conversation with Rosemarie Hudson, HopeRoad Publishing, (chair), and author Pete Kalu. Book Tickets

 Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Pakistan and arrived in the UK at the age of nine. I grew up in Manchester.

What sorts of books were in your family home?
All sorts. In my childhood days, there was a book shelf stacked with volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica  that my father bought to educate his children along with books by famous Pakistani poets, for example the work of Allama Iqbal.  Near my bed I had Enid Blyton’s Malory Tower series of six novels and the Famous Five collection. In my teenage years, quite a few Barbara Cartland books entered my bedroom. In our ancestral home in a wooden cabinet in Lahore I came across two of William Shakespeare’s plays. One was my father’s student copy of Hamlet, with margins lined with notes neatly scribbled in his elegant handwriting. As I pursued my studies of English literature, I proudly lined my bookcase with volumes of world literature, including numerous classics. I developed a literary appetite for the works of Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen, Ruth Prawar Jhabawalla,  Molière, Emile Zola, the ancient Greek tragedies, as well as the work of many popular Victorian novelists, including that of Elizabeth Gaskell. It was a proud moment when I was invited to read in her house at 84 Plymouth Grove here in Manchester.
Continue reading Interview | Qaisra Shahraz, author