Show 007: April 2008

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It’s been a great pleasure in the past week to have been working at the second Scarborough Literature Festival and meet again writers I have worked with in the past like Joanne Harris, Blake Morrison and Justin Cartwright. It was a particular pleasure to do the Sunday morning breakfast slot with Simon Hoggart where we read the newspapers and talked about what had struck us from the week’s news. I hope that the Scarborough Literature Festival goes from strength to strength in future years.

Book Review

This month’s book is Going Dutch, by Katie Fforde. I first came across Katie at a Reader’s Day in Doncaster several years ago, and I was immediately taken by her immense charm and wit . She refers to her books as ‘old hen lit’, but I think they’re more than that . We have Jo and her daughter making new lives for themselves on a barge on the Thames. How Jo and Dora find love for themselves is key to this story. There’s an astringent wit in Going Dutch which makes it one of the best of Katie’s novels.


Katie Fforde

I was trying to write for Mills and Boone because I thought I wanted to write Mars bars for people, little bits of pleasure for them. They were very encouraging, but when the final reject letter came back from them with the words ‘lacks sparkle’ I thought that I would just accept that as no. I then wrote Living Dangerously, which was my first published novel in 1995. My dear departed mother gave me a writing kit, which was a bit of a ‘put up or shut up’. I thought OK I’m going to start writing this year or never. It’s the only New Year’s resolution I have ever kept.

Perhaps Mills and Boone was perhaps a too small a dress size for me. I needed a larger canvas to write on. I wanted to write about real women whom I would recognize and whom I would want as a friends. I also wanted ordinary women to read my books and think , ‘Oh that could happen to me’.

With Jo in Going Dutch, I suppose I was putting myself in her shoes, and writing something positive about a wife being left for a younger woman. My plan is always to have a woman who is independent, can stand on her own feet, and still have romance too. I do have a particular fondness for my book, Wild Designs which has portraits of my children. But sometimes it’s only when someone writes me a lovely letter that I come round to the novel I have just written.

My new books is about weddings. My central characters are a wedding planner, a dressmaker and a hairdresser. Everyone has amazing stories about weddings.

But I’m currently running a novel about a woman who is running a literary festival. I’m having great fun writing it.

Poem of The Month

This month's poem was written after attending an informal party / rave about eight years ago, a party I was at least thirty years too old to attend. Read 'The Morning has Broken'.