Erotica, horror and tartan noir will help to make Newcastle Winter Book Festival a heady mix, as DAVID WHETSTONE reports
OVERLAPPING book festivals are surely a sign of a healthy literary scene in the North East.
As Durham Book Festival approaches its big weekend, full details of Newcastle Winter Book Festival become available.
With Durham now well-established under the auspices of New Writing North, the Newcastle festival, organised jointly by Newcastle Libraries and independent publisher McNidder & Grace, is still building a profile.
“This is the third Newcastle book festival and the second called Newcastle Winter Book Festival,” says Anna Flowers, publications manager at Tyne Bridge Publishing, the Newcastle Libraries book publishing arm. “Before that we had Books on Tyne.”
The Newcastle festival will feature events at the City Library, Lit & Phil, Discovery Museum and Tyneside Cinema.
“This is our most ambitious festival,” says Anna, a point taken up by festival director Andy Peden Smith of McNidder & Grace who says: “Each year the festival has received wonderful support from all who came and each year the festival has grown bigger and bolder.”
It runs from November 22-25 and its themes include erotica, horror and tartan noir (which is to say, Scottish crime writing).
But the focus will be on film at one opening day events when festival- goers will welcome veteran critic, writer and broadcaster Barry Norman.
This is a man who can talk about great icons of cinematic decades past and also boast of having interviewed them. His talk at the City Library, sure to be one of the most popular events, will be illustrated with clips from some of Barry’s favourite films, including Casablanca, Gone With The Wind and Dirty Harry.
Poet Kate Fox, historian Alistair Moffat and award-winning children’s writer David Almond will also be entertaining on the opening day.
David, who talks as entertainingly as he writes, will host a morning session tailored for children aged seven to 10 at the Discovery Museum and an afternoon session aimed at older children at the City Library.
A topical debate takes place at the City Library on November 23 called Fifty Shades of Grey: Romantic fantasy or porn?
Lots of women have bought the saucy novel by EL James and its sequels although perhaps rather fewer have read them cover to cover.
But at what point does romantic fantasy tip over into pornography and is this publishing phenomenon a good thing?
These and other questions will be debated by a panel including Julie Peakman and Nichi Hodgson, writers with a special interest in sex.
Both women will also give separate talks, Ms Hodgson discussing her book Bound to You – described as “a real-life Fifty Shades of Grey” – and Ms Peakman, an academic, offering a look at the history of erotica.
Scottish novelists Allan Guthrie, Tony Black and Doug Johnstone, billed as the finest practitioners of the tartan noir genre, will be at the Lit & Phil followed by John Connolly who will discuss his Charlie Parker novels and the latest, The Wrath of Angels.
At the Tyneside Cinema you can see The Awakening, the horror film set in a boys’ school in Cumbria in the 1920s, and meet Stephen Volk, who wrote the screenplay.
This should provide a chilling taster for Horror Saturday featuring a host of author events at the Lit & Phil.
Another Saturday session at the City Library will feature journalist Richard Moss who will talk about his book Megrahi: The Lockerbie Evidence, in which he argues that the man convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was a victim of dirty politics.
At the festival’s closing event, on November 25, guitarist and raconteur Mo Foster will talk about his book, British Rock Guitar, and there will be music by Newcastle singer and songwriter Jack Arthurs.
Find full details on www.newcastlewinterbookfestival.co.uk Box office: 0191 277 4100.