Mary Seacole House is a conspicuously modern and distinctive high-rise building on Clapham High Street which houses apartments as well as a variety of public services. One of these is the new Clapham Library.
Inside, past a reception desk, steps go down into a deep, blonde wood-clad well and upwards to galleries of book shelves. It was in the well on Tuesday, 3rd May, that the first event of Clapham’s Literary Festival took place. Best selling author, Laura Barnett talked about her book, ‘The Versions of Us‘. Laura is Clapham born and bred. Her mother, Jan, was also at the event, she used to work for Lambeth Libraries and was frequently in the old Clapham Library, the building which now houses Omnibus Arts Centre.
Laura talked engagingly with Tim O’Dell, the Librarian, about writing her best-selling novel, which explores the concept of the ‘road not taken’. She also discussed her work on her latest book and the TV/film adaptation of ‘The Versions of Us‘. There were, not surprisingly, lots of question from the floor. All in all, a very enjoyable evening and a really good start to Clapham’s Literary Festival.
Another author, similarly local, Bobbie Darbyshire appeared in the same place on Friday afternoon, 6th May. She gave a formal and thought-provoking talk, entitled ‘Where do novelists get their ideas from?’ This took as its starting point a quote from Philip Roth about the mechanics of writing and she proceeded to explore just how writers went about writing, from the initial idea to the printed novel.
Author of what she describes as two types of book, ‘serious fiction’ and ‘entertainments’, Bobbie was generous with her time in answering questions from the floor. Her books, ‘Truth Games‘, ‘Love, Revenge and Buttered Scones‘ and ‘Oz‘, attracted interest afterwards.
The third event at Mary Seacole House was ‘Crime in the Afternoon’, the gathering of three writers – Isabelle Grey, Miranda Carter and Sabine Durrant. Introduced by Librarian Edwin Macrae, the three authors, none of whose works can be described as comfortable – they are definitely not cosy ‘lady crime-writers’ – talked about what prompted them to write ( they all had previous careers before writing fiction ), where they found their inspiration and what they particularly liked about their chosen genre.
The discussion was remarkably free-flowing and informative, as were the responses to questions from the floor – members of the Library’s Crime & Thriller Reading Group were in attendance. Topics ranged from what they wouldn’t write about, in a genre which covered all sorts of gore and viciousness, how writing a series of books with a single detective, or detectives, differed from writing stand alone novels and how they did their research.
Latest books, including ‘Shot Through the Heart‘ by Isabelle Grey, and ‘The Printer’s Coffin‘ by M.J.Carter, were all on sale afterwards. ‘Lie with Me‘ by Sabine Durrant will be available in December 2016.
Unfortunately your blogger had to leave this most interesting of sessions part way through, to high-tail it up Clapham High Street to the book shop to prepare for her own event. She was up next. It was a very hard act to follow.