B.A Paris in the chair.

 

 

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I’m a massive Twitter fan and I love the book community on it. I love the interaction between readers, bloggers, authors, and publishing folk. I know firsthand that you’re more likely to get a Twitter reply from an author than a pop/rockstar. Harry Styles never replies to me……. I love discovering new books on Twitter. I’m a huge debut fan and if a book frequently flits through my timeline then chances are I’m going to want to read it.

I’m a fan of the psychological thrillers that have appeared in the last few years. The Girl On The Train, I Let You Go, The Kind Worth Killing, and The Woman Who Ran are some of my favourites. So when a book pops up in my timeline that is a debut psychological thriller my eyes widen.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris is so so good. It is definitely joining that list of favourites I’ve mentioned. I was gripped from the start. If you like reading whilst holding your breath then this book is for you. Is it the perfect marriage or the perfect lie?  Jack and Grace appear to have the perfect life and relationship but do they? Things aren’t always as they seem from the outside and the more you read the more you will gasp. Behind Closed Doors is dark and riveting and has one of THE best last chapters…….

I was delighted when B.A Paris said she’d love to come for a hairdo when she was in London. Her passion for writing and determination to be published is inspiring. I for one am very happy that book 2 ‘Every Little Thing’ will be published in November especially after hearing a sneaky synopsis which goes into my ‘secrets hairdressers keep’ oath.

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Now for the questions…..

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Behind Closed doors by B.A Paris is published by MIRA UK.

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B.A Paris in the chair.

David Whitehouse is in the chair.


David Whitehouse is the wonderful author of Bed, and Mobile Library. Mobile Library was published in January 2015 and is now available with this lovely cover in paperback. It tells the story of Bobby and how one summer his love of books introduces him to a new ‘family’. It is funny, sentimental, and off beat. All the characters are so vibrant. It was one of my favourites of 2015.

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I’d harassed David Whitehouse on numerous occasions to come and have his haircut with me and it finally paid off.
Firstly I have to say that he has an amazing head of hair, which further reiterates my thoughts that writing is good for the follicles.
Secondly he is very lovely to talk to.
We talked loads about stuff. We chatted about London and our love of it, yet how we didn’t feel that we had to be at its epicentre. At how ridiculous house prices are, both of us having a rant about how people on ‘normal’ wages just won’t get on that ladder, hence both of us moving out a little…bye bye zone 2, hello zone 5 and Kent.

We talked about writing and the process writers go through, whether they’re plotters or free flowing writers and also where they write. I personally find this fascinating so is a question I always ask.

David told me he rents an office space to write in, which holds a desk and a chair and no distractions.

Apparently he’s a good cook and can whip up some great menus, after spending the morning being distracted by Homes Under The Hammer and Twitter, hence needing the office space.

It was great to hear that book 3 will be ready for 2017, the synopsis sounds amazing and I for one will be eager to read it. Good to hear that it is ‘with’ the amazing Francesca Main, who has, and I quote David, ‘superpowers’ where books are concerned. Also to hear of some other secret projects…..that vow of oath I took regarding keeping secrets stands here……..

We talked about recent book reads and were in absolute agreement that Anatomy Of A Soldier by Harry Parker is bloody amazing. David is interviewing him for a ‘Shortlist’ event on 10th March. My tickets are booked and I will be sitting FROW for this.

  

Now for the questions…..

Where are you going on holiday?

Chichester. I’m not completely sure why.

How many books would you take for a week away? Favourites or new  reads?

I’d take one for every two days, so for a week, three and a half. If I get through those, which I won’t because I’m slow, I’m onto borrowing other people’s, though I should probably just enjoy the holiday instead. I only ever read new stuff on holiday. In fact, I only ever read new stuff most of the time. If a book is a favourite, I’ve normally given it to someone else to force them to agree with me.

What shampoo do you use?

Radox, 2-in-1. The lazy man’s shampoo and body gel.

Are you doing anything nice at the weekend?

I’m seeing my oldest friend to jointly shake our fists at the passage of time.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m about to start Don Delillo’s ‘Zero K’, and am very much looking forward to it, though it sounds like a breakfast cereal.

If anyone alive or dead could tweet about your book, who would you like it to be?

JK Rowling is, as far as I can tell, wrong about nothing. So, JK Rowling, or Richard Pryor.

What’s the worse hair disaster you’ve had?

When I was 13 I asked my sister, who was 18, what would be a good, fashionable hairstyle for me to have. She told me to go to the hairdressers and ask for an “exploding mushroom”. So I did. And all the hairdresser’s laughed, once they’d gotten over the initial confusion. She’d made it up. It was a moment of inspired cruelty on her part, I feel.

Mobile library is published by Picador.

David Whitehouse is in the chair.

The lovely James Hannah.

I met James Hannah at his launch party for The A-Z of You and Me. I’d already been fortunate enough to read a proof copy of his beautiful debut. I know when I like a book, and within pages I knew that this would be on my favourites of the year. He writes with beauty, eloquence, and compassion. The A to Z of You and Me is the story of Ivo who we soon discover is dying, that’s not a spoiler by the way. Sheila is the nurse who cares for him. She gives him the idea of the A to Z whilst he lays in his hospital bed. For each letter he must come up with a body part and a story about it. This is where we discover Ivo’s back story and of Mia. It is tender, heartbreaking, and also funny.


I shook my literary pom poms for it from the first read and know others that share their love for it. Anne Cater and Leah Moyse I’m looking at you. We are the ‘super fan trio’.


Twitter is such a wonderful place for books. Talking about them, sharing the love, and interacting with authors. James is exactly the same on Twitter as he is in real life. I was thrilled when he asked if he could come for a haircut.

One thing life has taught me is that there are so so people you come across in your life, and then there are those that are truly lovely. James is one of those who is truly lovely.

We had a marvellous time whilst I cut his hair. We talked books, writing, life, and more books. We were both adamant of our love for beautiful writing in a book, of those exceptionally crafted sentences or paragraphs that make you stop and gaze off into the distance.

Now I can talk for England in certain situations, and am still concerned to this day that James could have missed his train home with my constant rabbiting. He has since assured me he didn’t.

I also saw James Hannah at a Waterstones Picadilly event with Jason Hewitt and Emma Hooper about Narratives of Memory. It was great to hear James talk more in depth about his writing process and why he wrote The A to Z of You and Me. This I attended with the ‘super fan trio’ (see above), and we were all in agreement that James should do more events.


James is also the discoverer of Toblorange, which took Twitter, and then the rest of social media by storm in January 2016.

 

 

Here is lovely James’s Q&A…

Where are you going on holiday?

I haven’t been on a week-long holiday since 2006, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to break that duck this year. If I can manage, I’d really like to spend three or four days in St Ives, Cornwall, where I once made my wife cry with laughter by the simple expedient of being shat on by a seagull. It thumped me so hard in the chest it made my voice jump mid-sentence.

My wife howled her way to a nearby chemist to procure some tissues, and by the time she’d got to the front of the queue she was so hysterical she couldn’t say anything. The woman behind the till thought she was having an episode.

Anyway, we like to go back to St Ives again and again, and my wife often wanders around looking hopefully at the sky.

How many books would you take for a week away? Favourites or new reads?

I’d take a couple, hopefully very different from each other. Holiday is absolutely my favourite place to read and write, because you have that whole sense of “maybe I could just do this and eat ice cream and chips forever”. It’s wonderful. And now I come to think of it, they’d tend to be books I’ve been meaning to get round to reading.

I have great memories of reading a copy of Great Expectations that belonged to the holiday cottage on the Warren, St Ives. I needed to finish it by the time we left, which is absolutely the best way to read it.

What shampoo do you use?

If you leave your hair long enough, it starts to clean itself doesn’t it? That’s what they told me when I was a teenager. And all shampoo’s the same, isn’t it? It’s all soap. So if I’m going out to a posh do I might scrub my head with a bar of Imperial Leather*.

please see note at end of post.

Are you doing anything nice at the weekend?

Most Saturday mornings I can be found jumping around on the bouncy castle with my two-year-old at the local soft play area. Most Saturday afternoons I can be found groaning on the sofa holding my back. Sundays is Antiques Roadshow.

What book are you reading at the moment?

You mean PUBLISHED book? *winky wink*

I have four on the go. I’m reading American Housewife by Helen Ellis (during the day — it’s sharp and very funny), A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale (audio, for washing up and ironing to — it’s immersive and brilliant), Get It Together by Zoe Williams (audio, for driving — which is very inspiring about how the NHS might be approached) and One Man Band, the third of four volumes (out of a projected two) of an Orson Welles biography by Simon Callow (for bedtime, after I’ve finished writing — the text is extremely tightly tracked, but the biography is marvellous).

If anyone alive or dead could tweet about your book, who would you like it to be?

OK… I’m going to say Nick Drake. He’d perhaps just link to it at Wenlock Books (http://www.wenlockbooks.co.uk/jameshannah) and have a laughing emoji and a sad emoji and then a guitar emoji. And then a thumbs-up emoji.

By a series of amazingly serendipitous events, Nick’s sister Gabrielle Drake [clanggg!] came along to my book launch, and I was able to press a copy into her hands. It was one of the major moments in my launch year for The A to Z of You and Me, and I’ll certainly settle for that.

What’s the worst hair disaster you’ve had?

Ah, it’s complicated. I’d bought some Hubba Bubba from Tooth Newagents on Landcross Drive, Northampton. That night, I hatched a plan: I cleaned my teeth properly, kissed my mum goodnight, hopped into bed, and surreptitiously popped a fresh Hubba Bubba in my mouth and began chewing away. Then I fell asleep. Sure, I mean, I could have choked to death, but what happened was in some ways worse.

The Hubba Bubba flupped out of the side of my mouth as I slept, and I spent the rest of the night rolling and mashing it between my pillow and head. When I sheepishly crept down the stairs for breakfast the next morning, my mum had to cut it out of my hair with the kitchen scissors. She then took the altogether too-drastic step of arranging with Tooth Newagents that I should never be sold bubble gum again, which meant I became notorious in the district.

To this day I still get that frisson of danger when I’m buying my weekly quarter of Hubba Bubba.

The A to Z of You and Me is published by Doubleday.

* James does NOT wash his hair with Imperial Leather!

 

And FINALLY, inspired by The A to Z of You and Me here is my own hairdressing related A to Z.

A: Anagen

The growth phase of hair.

B. Bob

Iconic cut. Think Louise Brooks and Vidal Sassoon

C. Cutting.

 

D. Dandruff

Best treated with a shampoo that contains Ketaconazole.

E. Edgy

A word ‘hairdresser’s’ use to make something cool ie ‘edgy’ bob, ‘edgy’ colour.

F. Fashion techniques….

Dip dye, balayage, ombré.

G. Green

The colour you don’t want your hair to be, unless it was requested (see F).

H. Happy hair

 

I. Ionic

The new technology for ceramic irons.

J. Jargon

Reverse graduation, invisible layering, asymmetrical, pre-pigmentation.

K. Keratin

The composition of hair.

L. Layers

…and no you can’t just have 1.

M. Magician

With my scissors and comb I sometimes am.

N. Nutrients

So important for healthy hair.

O. Over processed hair

This is not good, so be kind to your hair.

P. Pantene

Just no! At least lie and say you use something else.

Q. Quiet time

I honestly don’t mind if you don’t want to talk.

R. Recommending books.

 

S. Secrets

I get told them and I keep them.

T- Trichoptilosi

The other name for split ends

U. Umbrella

A must on a salon visit just in case….

V. Very lovely clients

…who then become very lovely friends.

W. White hair

Those that clients don’t often like. Not necessarily a sign of ageing, it’s hair that has lost its pigment.

X. X rated stories

…which I hear a lot.

Y. Yes I would love you to bring me a coffee!

 

Z. Zzzzzz

how I sometimes feel after standing for 8 hours plus without sitting down.

 

 

 

 

The lovely James Hannah.

Hairdressers and trust.


I’m not surprised that hairdressers are the fifth most trusted profession. I’ve been a hairdresser for 24 years and have lost count of the times I’ve heard ‘I trust you’ and ‘you’re the first person I’ve told’ and ‘I love coming to see you’.

The trust covers so many different things. Knowing that with my scissors and comb, or my bowl full of tint, I could potentially make or break someone. Knowing that I’ve changed someone’s life or restored their confidence because they’ve trusted what I do creatively. To get to the point in my career when I’m asked for a new haircut or colour change and to be told ‘just go ahead, I trust you’ is immensely satisfying.

I’ve a wonderful client who, when she first came to me, had recently lost her husband and was in the throes of grief. Trying to cope with a life that had been turned upside down, she felt she needed a new look. Sensing that a full-on change wasn’t actually what she wanted or needed, I made a subtle change and then, as her trust in me grew over subsequent visits, changed her hair little by little. With this, I could see her confidence grow, her self-realisation that she was an attractive woman and that it was OK for her to have hair that others noticed and commented on. I remember encouraging her that, yes, she should go and buy a leather pencil skirt like one she’d seen in a magazine and made suggestions as to where she could get one. I remember being told that that skirt was the best thing she’d bought in years and she felt confident and sexy in it. Seeing her five years later with a wonderful new man in her life and so happy, sporting amazing hair, and being thanked for helping her on a journey of transformation made us both cry.

It’s the most amazing feeling that her putting her trust in me helped her become a new person.

I’m also a keeper of secrets.

I believe the reason I’m told secrets is that I rarely know the person the secret needs to be kept from. Often an outpouring from a client is because they’ve no one else to tell and it’s safe in my chair. You take some weird self-oath as a hairdresser that you have to keep secrets. I’m sure the only person that knows more secrets than a hairdresser is the receptionist in the salon!!

I’ve been told by clients that they’re leaving their partners, about affairs, illnesses, about going to prison, about work problems. I’ve had people break down and cry in my chair because they can.

I’ve also become a vat of information that clients trust from me, from book recommendations to mascara.

It’s about learning what each individual client needs from me. I’ve a client who loves a particular TV programme which probably isn’t that cool to like, but trusted me enough to mention it in conversation, discovered I like it too, so now we have a ‘secret’ fan club.
It’s about understanding people and taking a genuine interest in a way that maybe only their partner or best friend does. Or maybe more so. It’s giving someone your undivided attention for an hour or two. It’s about listening and letting someone tell you whatever they want. It’s allowing someone into your life too. I always say hairdressing is about so much more than what I can do with my scissors and comb. Some of my dearest friends were first my clients, and I have days I jump with joy because I have 8-10 clients back to back whom I love to see and talk with.

Clients put the highest level of trust in you, such as someone flying from Geneva to Boston via London so they can have their hair done because they don’t trust anyone else.
It’s knowing a client trusts you enough to be told that they can’t have lilac hair because they’ll look like they’ve had a blue rinse and not look like an East End hipster.
It’s having to confirm your contact details every time a client comes in and ensure them you will alert them immediately should anything change.

It’s being told that you must never ever give up hairdressing or move out of the country.
It’s having someone who has not had had a haircut for two years because they couldn’t find you.

So it doesn’t surprise me at all that we, as hairdressers, are one of the most trusted professions because we’re artists and therapists and entertainers and magicians all rolled into one.

Hairdressers and trust.

My 15 Favs of 2015!

2015 has been a wonderful bookish reading year for me.  I’ve chosen 15 as my top/best/favourites.

These are those that have left a mark. They’ve lingered in my head, heart, and soul for various reasons. They’ve made me laugh, cry, rejoice, and, stop and think. They’ve made me feel astonished, angry, happy, sad, tearful, shocked , astounded, thoughtful, grateful, and hopeful. They’ve made me talk non-stop about them, recommend them, tweet the hell out of them, and shake my book cheerleading pom poms for them.

So here they are……in no particular order,  apart from how I lay them out on my floor.

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(I’ve snuck in only one that is published in 2016, I’ll be tweeting about ‘the ones that definitely shouldn’t be missed in 2016’.)

Mobile Library by David Whitehouse (Picador)

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida (Atlantic)

Letters To The Lost by Iona Grey (Simon & Schuster)

Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye (Orion)

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill (Quercus)

The Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett (W&N)

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink (Picador)

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon (Borough Press) (Jan 2016)

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah (Doubleday)

A Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (Faber & Faber)

All Involved by Ryan Gattis (Picador)

Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt (Scribner)

The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger (Tinder Press)

The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood (Scibner)

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale (Tinder Press)

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A BIG thank you to Waterstones, Dulwich Books, Foyles, and Daunts for letting me give you money for these wondrous reads!

 

 

 

 

 

My 15 Favs of 2015!

It wasn’t a silent hour in my chair……..

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Do you ever feel like you know someone when you meet them? As in a separated at birth moment??? Or maybe if you believe in that afterlife stuff that you knew each other in a previous life? This is a little how I felt when the very lovely Cesca Major sat in my chair. Dark hair, fringe, same sense of humour. Think we were more alike than my older sister and I! Cesca had asked through the Twittersphere whether I’d cut her hair. Obviously the answer was yes, as I LOVE having book people in my chair.

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Cesca’s debut The Silent Hours published by Corvus, is out on 5th November in paperback, for those of you that haven’t read it I highly recommend you do. I’m a huge geeky fan of wartime set novels and this is based on a true event that happened in France. The story takes place during and after the war and is told from different viewpoints. With dual timescale and varied voices this was a big thumbs up for me. It’s definitely not an easy read, and made me feel horrified and sad at times, but a book that evokes such strong emotions is a book worth reading!

Cesca has stunning hair and reiterates my theory that writing is good for the follicles! We talked books (surprise surprise). The ones we love and why? How big the TBR pile gets sometimes…….and saying which ones should be popped to the top of the pile. As Cesca was off on a holiday soonish we discussed the intricacy of picking the right books to take. We also giggled a lot when she was telling me about her books written under Rosie Blake. I even volunteered my friend Emma for research purposes as to hunting down your exes. (Yes, she did!!!!)

I had a wonderful time with her in my chair and she left with happy hair!!

Where are you going on holiday?

Well I have just come back from the most incredible holiday in the Maldives so am yet to plan the next one. I keep thinking back to it though. We saw turtles, sharks, rays… it was a stunning place.

How many books would you take for a week away?

I took 5 away and that was only just OK..! One was a 750 page Jilly Cooper too so I am a book worm. Fortunately the husband was reading the latest Jack Reacher so I stole that too.

What shampoo do you use?

Same as before..! The brunette one… I forget the name… (John Frieda)

Are you doing anything nice at the weekend?

This weekend I am working furiously on edits for THE LAST NIGHT – I went back to Devon to do some more research last month and now I am working on the ‘Historical Note’ at the back of the book. A large part of the book is based on a true story from 1952 and the details are quite harrowing.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently reading Sarra Manning’s AFTER THE LAST DANCE – very, very slowly due to editing. It is a lovely read so far.

If anyone alive or dead could tweet about your book, who would you like it to be?

I think if the lovely Mary Shaffer who co-wrote my favourite novel THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY had been able to read it I definitely would have wanted to know what she thought.

What’s the worst hair disaster you’ve had?

My friend highlighted my hair for me at home but we fell asleep and I had to go to the hairdressers the next day as I looked like a dreadful zebra. The blonde stripes had all leaked too and it cost a fortune to fix. I refused to take the hat off in the hairdresser’s chair at first. Dreadful.
It wasn’t a silent hour in my chair……..

Adventure to the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.

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I consider myself an organised person and I can also read a map, yet on my journey to the Isle of Wight Literary Festival managed to miss my connecting train, and then the ferry, which when I got on went to East Cowes not Cowes and then got a little lost between the ferry and the B and B. I arrived a giggling mess!

It’s probably a good job I hadn’t booked to see any of the events on that day considering it would have been quicker to fly to Turkey.

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The B and B was very quaint and the landlady was absolutely barking. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many ‘things’ in one room! It was definite risk assessment for what could be potentially broken seeing as I’m a little clumsy. How that starfish perched on the bathroom sink the size of an iPhone remained in one piece is beyond me.

The first event I attended was the Grip Lit Crime Panel, with Colette Mcbeth author of Precious Things and The Life I Left Behind, Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go, and Rebecca Whitney, author of The Liar’s Chair. This was chaired by Fanny Blake.

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This was a great event. I find the writing process fascinating, whether plot or characters are decided upon first. How some authors just start writing, and how some have to know exactly where the story is going to go and how it will end before fingers touch keypads.

Clare told us how she walked into the Devon sea in October fully clothed as she wanted to know what it would feel like for her character! That’s hardcore!! Rebecca said how she will often write out of sequence, which was met with horrified gasps from Clare and Colette. Colette shared how she couldn’t understand why she’d been invited to a ‘psychological thriller authors’ event as she thought she’d just written a book! These were three fabulous authors to be put together and Fanny was a great chair.

My next event was Historical Fiction ‘Hearts and Minds’ with Anna Hope, author of Wake, Lucy Ribchester author of The Hourglass Factory, and Lissa Evans, author of Their Finest Hour and A Half and Crooked Heart and children’s fiction too.IMG_1285 FullSizeRender

This was once again chaired by Fanny Blake who needs to have her own tv or radio book related show as she is a great host!

This event was FAB! Lissa told us that she wrote Crooked Heart because she’d done so much research for Their Finest Hour And A Half that she had to write another book set in the same time period. Lucy was inspired by circus acrobatics and Suffragettes. Anna too was inspired by Suffragettes and women’s roles. There was a very lively debate had by these three with a lot of Woman Power in the room! I went straight to the tent after to purchase all three books which I had signed. I was so delighted to meet Anna as Wake was one of my favourite books from last year. I was further delighted when she told me The Ballroom, her second novel will be published next February. Cannot wait!

Saturday evenings event was Debut Writers Salon with Lucy Foley, author of Lost and Found. Kate Hamer, author of The Girl In The Red Coat, and Sarah Leipciger, author of The Mountain Can Wait. This was chaired by Georgina Moore.

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What a great trio of authors. Lucy talked glamour and nostalgia and shared how she was keeping the memories of her Grandmother alive through her writing. Sarah told us how she met some ‘people’ online who after vetting that she wasn’t part of an anti gun organisation gave her invaluable information on guns and hunting that was relevant to her story. Kate got us all ‘oohing’ when she shared exciting news that there may be a film in the pipeline! Again another very great chair from Georgina Moore. Lots of questions from the floor too.  Excuse the poor quality of the photos here. I was tweeting and taking pics with a wad of tissue up my nostrils trying to stem a nosebleed…..all for a good cause!

Georgina had invited me to the Author’s dinner that night. Oh I was mightily chuffed and slightly starstruck to be sat with Patrick Gale, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Fanny Blake, Lucy Ribchester, Elizabeth Preston, and Jo Dawson.

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I was buzzing all evening!  Mahoosive thanks to Georgina for that!

Sunday morning and my last event at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival with Rachel Joyce and Patrick Gale.  This was a packed out event.

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Rachel talked about Harold Fry and Queenie Hennessy. She regaled story’s of her Father, one of them which had the audience tittering was that he’d hated the sea, couldn’t swim, didn’t like boats and yet wore yacht shoes most of his life. She told us about The Snow Garden, her collection of short stories that are all interlinked due for publication in November and that there is a novel next year! Lots of smiling faces in the audience at that news.  Rachel and Patrick were a natural pairing with such enlightening and flowing conversation.

I had such a marvellous time. It was wonderful to go to the events I’d booked. Such an array of awesome authors.  It was good to see Karen Dennise (myreading-corner.blogspot.co.uk) and meet Alison Percival (alisonpercival.com) Check out their posts of the festival too!

A massive congratulations to Fanny Blake, Georgina Moore, and Patrick Gale for brilliant chairing of their events. I see television book presenting for all of them……

It was a truly inspiring four days being amongst lovely bookish people. I shall go back next year for sure!

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Adventure to the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.