heading down to Cornwall

Last weekend, my writing chums and I headed down to Cornwall to attend various events at the North Cornwall Book Festival held in the small village – well, tiny hamlet, actually, of St Endellion. We came to the first fest in 2019, but then of course things happened, and although there was a festival last year we weren’t able to attend so highly delighted to be there again this year! NB – the dates are fixed for next year –

The North Cornwall Book Festival will run from 21st to 24th September 2023. The programme and tickets will be released next summer. We also run a year-round programme of literary events: North Cornwall Book Festival Author Tours. 

There were events last weekend over several days, novelists, poets, short story writers, story tellers – everything you could imagine. We attended various talks, including on the first evening Vanessa Kisuule and Inua Ellams, stunning poets who were absolutely inspiring. The following morning there was a session with four authors, who talked about a particular book of theirs and gave some insight into their habits of writing, their inspiration,  unfortunately I have mislaid my programme and can’t remember their names. However one of them told us her novel was inspired by a country park which contains the ruins of a gunpowder factory. Well, this immediately went on the journey home itinerary!

The writer I particularly wanted to see was Jasper Fforde. So far I have only read one of his books, but look forward to reading some if not all of the rest!

Jasper Fforde is an English novelist, whose first novel, The Eyre Affair, was published in 2001. He is known mainly for his Thursday Next novels, but has published two books in the loosely connected Nursery Crime series and the first books of two other independent series: The Last Dragonslayer and Shades of Grey. Fforde’s books abound in literary allusions and wordplay, tightly scripted plots and playfulness with the conventional, traditional genres. They usually contain elements of metafiction, parody, and fantasy.

He started by giving us a brief biography of his interesting and varied life, working in film as a focus puller – it sounds very complicated and crucial and is essentially the person who makes sure the camera is set at the correct focus. He is an extremely engaging, amusing and entertaining speaker, and I think even if you hadn’t read any of his books you would enjoy listening to him and his various stories, musings, ponderings, comical asides and insights into the background to his novels and his writing.

I wrote this about Jasper after reading an absolutely extraordinary book by him:

I have just finished reading the most extraordinary book, and I think it’s going to take me quite a while to process it. It’s like nothing I have ever read before, and don’t quite no how to describe or even discuss it without giving anything away. The cover may give some clue – the title is ‘The Constant Rabbit’ and the illustration is a three-quarter length drawing of a standing rabbit wearing a dark jacket, collar and tie and an enigmatic expression. It is fantastically well-written, I am in awe of Jasper FForde who wrote it. It is engaging, intriguing, interesting, funny, thought-provoking, intelligent, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop thinking about it and the issues it raises for quite a while. It’s described as ‘a science fantasy allegorical novel’ and I guess there are elements of sci-fi, and it is certainly allegorical, but it is above all a cracking read.
Like me, Jasper was born in London on January, on the 11th, whereas I’m the 12th – however, there are quite a few years difference between us! He worked in films before being published and I was interested to read that as the narrative is very visual, effortlessly visual, now I reflect on it. It’s the first book of Jasper’s that I have read and I look forward to reading more – but not just yet, I need to digest ‘The Constant Rabbit’, (digest the constant rabbit, a feeble joke, but in line with the book). It’s not a difficult read, but it is engrossing and I need to think about it for a while, and then possibly reread it, or at least parts of it. It’s so clever on so many levels I’m sure I’ve missed quite a lot – in fact, it was only as I wrote the above paragraph that I realised I had missed something blatantly  obvious!

My featured image was taken at Port Isaac

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