THE latest novel by Tynemouth writer Ruth Henderson is to be launched on Tuesday at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle.
It is called The Last Week in August and begins: “Tilly felt like kissing the young man who sat opposite her...”
The first sentence is relevant in Ruth’s case because in 2004 she won a short story competition in The Journal which invited contestants to pick one of two alternative opening sentences as their starting point.
Ruth’s story, Winter In Ibiza, won the competition, run as part of that year’s Fresh Fiction festival and set and judged by writer and creative writing lecturer Penny Smith.
The retired hospital receptionist recalls: “Winning the Journal competition inspired me to fulfil my ambition to write a novel and I did.”
And she adds: “I know that without the confidence I found after winning The Journal’s competition none of this would have been possible.”
Ruth’s first novel, The Other Side of the Tide, was published by Biscuit Press. Her second, High Tides, was published by Red Squirrel Press.
She’s back with Biscuit again for the latest which introduces us to Matilda Maitland, “Tilly”, wife and mother-of-three, who is about to have a nasty shock. The Tall Ships’ Race is the backdrop to a tale which, as Ruth herself advises, includes “adultery, bigamy, teenagers, drugs and kidnapping”.
That seems tough on teenagers but, as Tilly would tell you, life’s anything but a breeze and there’s a lot of it – in all its different shades – packed into these 229 pages.
The Last Weekend In August (Biscuit Press, £6.99) is launched at the Lit & Phil at 7pm on Tuesday.
Also at the Lit & Phil on Thursday at 6pm Prof Gordon McMullan, of King’s College, London, will deliver the inaugural Honigmann Shakespeare Lecture.
It is called Cormorant: A History of Greed in Shakespeare and others.
The lecture commemorates renowned Shakespeare scholar Ernst Honigmann, formerly Joseph Cowen Professor of English Literature at Newcastle University, who died last summer. Admission is free, but please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.