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It's good to talk

Features | Published:

The seventh Guernsey Literary Festival will feature more novelists than ever on its speaker list, as Nick Le Messurier reveals

IMPORTANT novelists have always been well represented at the Guernsey Literary Festival, with Sebastian Faulks, Louis de Bernieres, Rachel Joyce and Will Self among past speakers, and this year’s event, the seventh, is no exception.

In fact, this year’s festival, which runs from 1-6 May, can count more novelists than ever on its speaker list.

They include Lionel Shriver, Patrick Gale, Emma Healey, and crime/suspense writers Erin Kelly and Mark Billingham.

Lionel Shriver, an American novelist who now lives in the UK, described by the Sunday Times as a ‘brilliant writer’ with a ‘strong, clear and strangely seductive voice’, leapt to prominence in 2003 with the publication of her powerful and often disturbing novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, about a fictional school massacre. The novel, Shriver’s seventh, won the 2005 Orange Prize, and was adapted into a film.

More recent novels include Big Brother: A Novel, which was inspired by the morbid obesity of one of her brothers, and The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047, which was published in 2016 and also became a bestseller. Her most recent work, Property, a collection of short stories, which will be at the centre of her talk in Guernsey, has been described as ‘a phenomenal collection’.

  • Lionel Shriver will be speaking at St James at 5.30pm on Saturday 4 May.

Patrick Gale is the highly respected and acclaimed author of 16 novels, including Notes from an Exhibition and A Perfectly Good Man, as well as the Emmy-winning BBC show Man in an Orange Shirt. He’ll be talking about his latest novel, Take Nothing With You, his fourth on the Sunday Times Bestseller list, an intense sad-funny comedy about adolescence, betrayal and music suffused with memories of the 1970s – a testament to resilience and survival.

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Patrick says that he has never had a ‘grown-up job’. For three years he lived at a succession of addresses, from a Notting Hill bedsit to a crumbling French chateau. While working on his first novels he eked out his slender income with odd jobs; as a typist, a singing waiter, a designer’s secretary, a ghost-writer for an encyclopedia of the musical and, increasingly, as a book reviewer – all good grounding for a budding novelist.

  • Patrick Gale is speaking at the Festival Hub in Market Square at 11.30am on Saturday 4 May.

Emma Healey started her career in books in an unusual way. She went to art college and completed her first degree in bookbinding, working for two libraries, two bookshops, two art galleries and two universities, and was busily pursuing a career in the art world. But a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia changed her life and Elizabeth is Missing, her first novel, was a Sunday Times Bestseller, won the Costa First Novel Award 2014 and was shortlisted for the National Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

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Her latest book, Whistle in the Dark, published in paperback and as an ebook just a couple of weeks ago, is a compelling modern family drama, with well drawn and witty characters. It revolves around Jen, the mother of a 15-year-old girl who went missing for four days and won’t talk about the experience, though she starts to act strangely. Jen knows that the reason for her daughter’s strange behaviour probably lies in those four missing days.

  • Emma Healey will be appearing in the Festival Hub on Saturday 4 May at 4pm.

Mark Billingham has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for Crime Novel of the Year, and has also won a Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British writer. Each of the novels featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne has been a Sunday Times Bestseller. His books have sold 5m. copies.

Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat were made into a hit TV series on Sky 1 starring David Morrissey as Thorne, and a series based on the novels In the Dark and Time of Death was broadcast on BBC1.

His latest thriller, Their Little Secret, sees Tom Thorne and Nicola Tanner on the hunt for a couple whose mutual chemistry boils over into murder.

  • Mark will be appearing in a Crime Time conversation with fellow crime/suspense writer Erin Kelly in the Festival Hub at noon on Sunday 5 May.

To find out more about the festival or to book tickets, visit www.guernseyliteraryfestival.com

Shaun Shackleton

By Shaun Shackleton
Features reporter

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