Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Philip Whiteley takes us to the 2nd Ampthill Literary Festival

Fairly new to the calendar is the Ampthill Literary Festival. One to watch out for next year.

Philip Whiteley hosted two sessions at the second Ampthill Literary Festival on Saturday 11th July – an event he co-founded last year. Opening the afternoon sessions, author Bobbie Darbyshire held the audience’s attention with an eloquent discourse on the theme ‘Where do novelists get their ideas from?’, and described how ideas appear, nurture and are brought to bloom.
Philip with Bobbie Darbyshire
Image courtesy of Neil Hannam
She discussed the options that face all novelists in story development: whether to plot and plan the arc to its tiniest detail in advance, or create characters and let them take decisions and shape the narrative as they go along. She declared herself to adopt a blend of the two approaches – deciding upon an overall narrative, but letting herself be surprised by some of the comments and choices made by the characters.
Bobbie read the opening of her latest novel Oz, a heartfelt and beautifully drawn portrayal of a flawed young man Mark Jonsson, his wife and his lover, and the chance of redemption through the relationship with his precocious daughter Matilda, aged seven. 

Later at the Festival, after a non-fiction session on popular science, the audience was entertained by the veteran journalist, author and broadcaster Barry Norman, who regaled some astonishing true tales of Peter Sellers, John Wayne and many more.
The evening session started with Philip in conversation with actor and author, John Challis, well known as ‘Boycie’ from Only Fools & Horses. The audience learned how John Challis has acted in Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard, as well as TV sitcom roles, and penned the 'Reg' series of comic novels and a two-part autobiography. 

Philip with John Challis
Image courtesy of Neil Hanna

Concluding the evening – which was hosted by renowned actor-author Robert Daws – was Jenny Eclair. She warmed the audience up with ten minutes of belly-laughs, but then turned to literature, reading from her wonderful novel Moving – about the history of a house that has been a family home for half a century, revealing the stories as the elderly Edwina takes an estate agent from room to room, and she remembers the family secrets, the tales of love and of tragedy. Jenny Eclair told a packed house that she has been fascinated by the history of buildings since wanting a doll’s house as a young girl. She stayed to take questions from the audience and brought a hugely successful event to a rapturous conclusion.

'Creating a literary festival is in many ways a creative project, like writing a novel. The organisers worked hard to create two successful main events, plus several informal evenings of talks and readings in pubs that we call ‘Beer and Books’. Bobbie gave us the perfect start. We’re already looking forward to next year.'

Philip Whiteley: Website:
Ampthill Literary Festival: www.amplitfest.co.uk

Thank you for reviewing the festival for us, Philip. I’m sure many of us will be putting this one in our diaries.

The RNA Blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you would like to write for the blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

No comments: