Write-up of #Ruth Jones In Coversation with @hannahbeckerman #PenguinUKBooks @TransworldBooks @hannahbeckerman #UsThree

Write-up of Ruth Jones In Conversation
With Hannah Beckerman

Organised By Penguin

Ruth Jones was in conversation with journalist and author – Hannah Beckerman on Publication Day (3rd September 2020) of her new book Us Three. The talk was sparkling with enthusiasm and fun, covering her new book, writing and TV.

Lockdown

Ruth, during lockdown, was with her husband in Cardiff, Wales, unsuccessfully growing plants and reassessing her life with plans that never happened, like learning the piano or guitar. It was a great opener to the conversation and was witty, with an air of down-to-earthness. This down-to-earthness came across again, later in the talk, when she spoke of being so happy about Never Greener doing so well in the charts, which she had not expected, like she hadn’t expected to be on TV either. Now, having a bit more understanding of publishing, seems even happier about Us Three. She sounds like she is enjoying it.

Us Three

Us Three

The book – Us Three is about 3 friends – Laura, Judith and Catrin and there are talks of them making a pact together on a curly-wurly wrapper. There are three because she decided it would create more interest than just two.
The book spans over 4 decades of this friendship and she chose this as her focus, to move away from the toxic relationship within Never Greener, which soared through the charts for over 10 weeks.

It was so lovely to hear that Ruth herself has been blessed with such good friendships that have spanned over so many years and seen so many milestones of life together, since primary school and says there’s a bit of each of them and herself within the book as they inspired her characters journey, but essentially it’s all made-up. It was however more interesting when she expanded in talking about how there’s a certain dynamic between friends who have been together through life for such a long time and a certain part that can feel child-like in a sense and also sibling-like in another sense. The thing with Ruth Jones, is, what she was sharing was pretty relatable to. She was pretty honest as well, about having to delve into her own friend’s and sister’s memories and for inner detailing of the likes of Cyprus and talked of her own holidays abroad and the very south of England.

The parenting in the book takes on a different dynamic with Catrin and her over-protective dad and Judith and her step-dad, who has a gentler relationship with his step-daughter. She divulged how she, herself is a step-mum. I must say, I loved her attitude, that she didn’t set-out to be celebratory of blended-families and that, instead, she is more of a fan of just getting on with life together. From what she talked about, she does come across as being a great step-mum and sounds like a great family.

Upon being asked about ensemble writing, by Hannah, from her writing great main and secondary characters, she says with both prose fiction and screen-writing, she starts with characters and then works ut the chemical reaction of them coming together and loves the chaos that brings. She tries to write realistically, which I must say, comes across in her books. She balances good stuff with the bad stuff and under-pins it with humour as that’s what can happen in real-life.

TV Talk

Ruth Jones talked of TV as well. In terms of script-writing, she had wondered if she could write a book, although the approach is different. She discovered she loved going into the psychology a bit more than in a script. She isn’t a planner, she said, as she intimated she works at all sorts of hours. This is interestingly, in complete contrast to Hannah, who is a plotter and a planner. It just shows that people work so differently and yet still do so well.

Of course Hannah asked the question on everyone’s lips – “Will there be more Gavin and Stacey”. It was entertaining hearing her almost skirt around this as she talked about the Christmas special that drew in a huge audience, which neither her nor James Corden predicted and had instead been preparing for the worst. They also kept it so quiet. It was nice she credited the BBC for also doing so. They had a master-plan, which worked, for how people would find out and not through leaks in the press. She talked about how hard it is for her and James Corden to be together and they prefer to write in each other’s physical company due to Covid and also being busy, rather than via Zoom. It does sound a spectacular working relationship. She mentioned there may or may not be a story-line. There were lots of teasers. So, in other words, only her and James Corden will know the answer.

She came across as so grateful for her acting success and even the times when she had a line in May to December and a line and a look in the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma, siting that everything is important and she ensure in her writing too that nothing is wasted.

Excitingly she is working on 3 TV projects from her own company and has started writing her 3rd novel

Us Three is available to buy now!

Us Three

 

 

An Online/Virtual Event with Erica James @EricaJames #LettersFromThePast #VirtualEvent #NewBook

So, regular readers of my blog will know, that I have been attending some online events and writing some of them up on my blog. Today I sat in a room and watched the author Erica James do a Q&A session. So take a look to find out a snap-shot of her new bestselling book and a little bit about this very successful author.

Letters From the Past cover

A New Book

She has a new Bestseller called Letters From the Past, set in the early 1960’s. It may be a large book, but the chapters are lovely and short and it sounds a book that many will enjoy. It is a sequel that to Coming Home to Island House, but stands perfectly well as a standalone.
Erica James talked of her sons living in Seattle and Tokyo and it was when she was in Seattle with her son there, driving by movie stars houses, that she then decided to set the scene for her character.
I have been very lucky in being given the opportunity to review this wonderfully interesting sounding book on the 20th of April, so you will find out my thoughts and a little more about the story then, that will hopefully inspire you.

Inspiration

A place, something she sees, something that touches a nerve can inspire her.

Swallowtail Summer is set in Norfolk and for research she read up on, which she sounded quite taken by, and then travelled there to be in situ.

Pastimes

Erica James likes watching  some sport such as ice-skating and  gymnastics, her icon there being Olga Korbut. Her favourite sport of all is F1 racing. She also likes to do gardening and knitting. She clearly enjoys reading too as she has many books on her shelves.

Writing and Reading

For budding writers, she says read, write words on the page and don’t worry about who will read it, it might just be for you and that’s okay and enjoy the process.

Erica started writing as a hobby for escapism and then went on a writers course and a conference and it sounded like someone helped her out and she got an agent from Curtis Brown, who she is still with and got published by Orion. The writing came from a love of reading and she wondered if it was as fun writing a book as it was reading and it turned out, for her, it is and she has now written many books.

The covers of books have changed over the years to suit a new audience and as fashions change, book covers change. 

She enjoyed writing Letters from the Past and many of her other books.
She really likes A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, although perhaps one of its time and people find they themselves change over the years. It was interesting hearing her talk so candidly about going back to a book to re-read after many years.

She says A Breath of Fresh Air is a book of hers that would be great for escapism. I reckon, all of them are really good to try for that.  Also try out her latest, enticing sounding book – Letters From the Past.

A few of her many books

Celebrating 100 Posts and Thank You #100 #Bloggers #ReadingCommunity #WritingCommunity #Article #Blog #Authors #Publishers

Celebrating 100 posts on my Blog

Today on my blog notifications it announced I had written 100 posts. I hadn’t realised it was so many over just over a year. I have enjoyed reviewing every book from crime to political thriller to up-lit to non-fiction; and every stage performance from musicals to plays to stand-up. Articles covering a number of subjects. I love writing my blog, but most of all, I thank you all for following direct from my blog, on Twitter and my Facebook Page. I also thank those who invite me to join their blog tours, the authors and publishers who send me books and for conversing with me via my social media and the contact section on my blog homepage. It really does feel like such a privilege to be able to review so many and such a diverse selection of books by so many authors.
I thank authors and book festival organisers who have added me to their contact lists, again such a privilege and an exciting one at that.

I have more great sounding books to read and review, theatre and thoughts for further articles as time moves ever forward on my blog. So, I hope you all continue to enjoy what I am doing and thanks again for your support by your nice comments, all which I read and try to respond to.

Thank you!

Happy Halloween – A message and fun facts #Halloween #UK #USA #Family #Education #Article

Halloween pic

Happy Halloween and Fun Facts

I hope that if you do something for Halloween, that you enjoy it. Stay safe and have fun and enjoy any treats you get for your efforts of dressing up/taking the children round doors, singing songs, telling a story or a joke. Remember to be nice to people and they’ll be nice and more tolerant back.

In Scotland we call it guising, although increasingly, like so many things, it is now being very Americanised and also called sometimes Trick or Treating. In a world that is becoming increasingly challenging to be in, spread some kindness and fun across this Halloween.

Fun Facts about Halloween:

 

  • The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.

 

  • “Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.

 

  • Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.

 

  • According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.

 

  • Jack O’Lanterns were originally made from turnips.

There are Mysterious Goings on in Literary Morecambe – A Review of the Morecambe and Vice Festival @MorecambeVice #Crime #Festival #Morecambe #Lancaster #Books #Review

There are Mysterious Goings on in Literary Morecambe

A Review of the Morecambe and Vice Festival

An array of hats, talk of murder and other crimes, music filling the air and an art deco-hotel mixed together with a sense of quirkiness – it could only be The Morecambe and Vice Festival.

The weekend just past (28th-29th September) found me in Morecambe at the Morecambe and Vice Festival. A diverse and quirky crime festival that is in its third year. I first came here last year to meet Hugh Fraser (played Captain Hastings in Poirot and many other roles and is an author) – that’s a whole other story…
I had barely started my blog when I was first at the festival, and now with my blog being a year old, and grown somewhat, I was so pleased that kindly, the organisers invited me to review their festival on my blog. It was such a pleasure and privilege. It was an incredible opportunity given by Tom Fisher and Ben Cooper-Muir.

Morecambe feels like it is on the up again. There is a second series of The Bay being filmed there and they are getting The Eden Project and there is of course this wonderful festival called Morecambe and Vice, which is not afraid of diverse subjects or of inviting authors and other speakers from across the UK.

All Ready to Begin with Tom and Ben

Morecambe and Vice is now, as previously mentioned, is in its third year, but the reality is so much different. It feels like it has been going for longer. It is so professional, welcoming and yet so relaxed. Tom and Ben have clearly put in a lot of effort into making this year, like last year, a success. This is a festival where authors (and audiences) seem to like to be able to return to, given the chance.

I arrived on Friday afternoon and took a look around the streets and of course along the seafront and got ready for the Saturday at The Midland Hotel. The Midland is a lovely art-deco hotel and has featured in some tv episodes of Poirot by Agatha Christie. It was a terrific venue. I loved The Winter Garden’s Theatre the year before, but The Midland was warmer. Who knows where the venue will be next year… 

Midland Hotel
All Art-Deco at The Midland Hotel

Registration to introduce yourself and collect your badge was between 9:00am and 9:30am. It’s all wonderfully stress free and it was quite exciting seeing not only my name, but also my blog name on the badge. That was very nicely done.

The air was filled with music, including the theme tune to the Poirot tv series, which really grabbed everyone’s attention. All the music was very fitting for the time period and place where we were, which added perfectly to the amazing welcoming and exciting atmosphere that was building up as people began to fill the room. The stage was dressed and looking so good. I loved all the hats, so simple and yet so effective.

Stage and HatsStage is Set, Complete With Great Hats

The weekend was split into sections, after each panel had spoken, there was a very adequate interval for book signing opportunities and time to get a beverage. 1 hour for lunch was also well factored in. The atmosphere is fabulous with a pianist playing very well at each interval between the panels.

Over the entire weekend, there were 12 different panels of speakers – 6 each day.

Saturday:

  • What’s the Worst That Could Happen – Crime and Thrillers in an Apocalyptic Setting with Lesley Kelly, Ceri Lowe and Matt Brolly. Moderated by Tom Fisher.
  • Let them Lead the Way – Children’s and YA Crime with Nicki Thornton, Sarah Todd Taylor and Sharna Jackson. Moderated by Anne Coates
  • Discussing Dyslexia with Fleur Hitchcock, Jane Elson and Jennie Finch. Participating Moderator – Margaret Murphy.
  • Who, What, Where, When, Why – What can crime fiction tell us about the way works? With Academics – Mary Evans, Hazel Johnstone and Sarah Moore. Crime writers – William Shaw and Gytha Lodge.
  • Partners in Crime with Adam Croft and surprise guest bring their podcast to the festival
  • In Conversation with Lin Anderson – best selling author discusses her life and career with debut author Noelle Holten.Morecambe Sea

Sunday:

  • Festival of Festivals – Festival organisers discuss what led them to partake in such insanity with Bob McDevitt, Quentin Bates, Dr. Jacky Collins. Moderator: Ben Cooper-Muir.
  • Winner Winner – Prize winning authors discuss the pros and cons of their wins with Robert Scragg, Rachel Sargeant, Alison Belsham and Margaret Kirk.
  • Till Death Do Us Part – What’s it like being in a relationship with another crime writer? with Nicola Upson and Mandy Morton. Interviewer – Graham Smith
  • Femme Fatales with Eileen Wharton, Danielle Ramsey, Sheila Quigley, KA Richardson and moderated by Dr. Jacky Collins
  • Let’s Talk: Mental Health Mental Health in Crime Fiction and how Crime Fiction can help with mental health with Dr. Liz Brewster and Dr. Chris Merritt and participating moderator – Barbara Nadel.
  • In Conversation with Professor Dame Sue Black. The anthropologist, academic and author discusses her life and work with Ben Cooper-Muir.Morecambe Boats

This is a festival, even with the amount of travelling I have to do to get to it (3 trains), is absolutely a festival, if invited again, I would be delighted to return to and review. It is attracting some great authors and I love all that is on offer and the diversity. It was so interesting to meet lots of authors, including some great children’s and YA authors and some doctors and a forensic scientist. It was lots of fun that they had a podcast. It was all very different for a festival and I liked that a lot. I had a very enjoyable time and many happy memories were created of the place, the people I met and the festival as a whole.

With the scene now set, I will be also sharing my reviews of each panel over the coming week or so.

Eric Morecambe      Eric Morecambe