Monthly Archives: June 2012

An Audience with Sue Townsend

Childhood dreams of glamour; while waiting for her bus she’d peer through the sloped window of a posh hotel in Leicester, where the punters used cigarette holders. She’d watch the gay bar tender totter around in his black stilettoes; Sue had achieved this dream and was in fact wearing a pair of shiny black heels. What a long way to have come, that same girl who only learned to read when she was eight and left school at fifteen went on to achieve multinational success in the bookselling world.

Perhaps it is Sue Townsend’s background that makes her so humble, Sue quoted Plato when she said: ‘Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle’, as she signed towards her heart. It is the fact that Sue can find something good in everyone that allowed her to refine her compassion and inherent interest in other people and the stories they have to tell. From this she was able to learn how real people feel and respond to given situations, through these understandings of human behaviour she manages to create characters with such strong and seemingly real personalities. This is especially true of the infamous Adrian Mole, who Sue actually talks about as though he’s a real person, explaining that he celebrated his forty-fifth birthday last month.

Of course, such success is never achieved without some hard graft, Sue admitted to rewriting one particular film script thirty-seven times. After progressing through a number of these, the producer began to wonder: perhaps the first version was the best? Sue commented that she had restrained from getting annoyed with him, and simply preserved with her work.

The topic of conversation turned to a specific work: Womberang, Sue’s first play. From this she learnt that directors had a lot of control over stage productions, as her carefully-crafted Bernard Shaw style stage directions were very much over-looked. Alongside this, she realised that actors can be very particular about phrases which they are able to pronounce, but regardless of meddling directors and whinging actors, Sue stuck it out and became a very successful playwright.

As final bit of gossip, Sue did let on that she would be beginning the next book in the Adrian Mole series the following day, apparently she has no idea what path the story is going to take- except there will be an inclusion of a certain box…

And so, An Audience with Sue Townsend was exactly as I imagined it would be: insightful, inspirational and, of course, full of wit and humour.

Should Kindles really be banned at Hay festival?

We stumbled across this controversial banner during a lovely weekend in Hay-on-Wye.

It lead us to consider whether Kindles should be banned from the Hay festival: a festival where the written word is celebrated by book enthusiasts. According to one bookseller, Kindles turn readers into “robots in another world” but, sadly, we did not see any cyborgs in Hay…

So are Kindles really the enemy of printed books? We saw several brave readers reading from Kindles, and they weren’t sent to the stocks or anything…

What do you think? Should Kindles be banned from the Hay festival:

Making Hay

I am fortunate enough to live near Hay-on-Wye in Wales, home to the famous Hay Festival. During my search for publishing work experience earlier this year, I called by the Hay-On-Wye offices to see if they were able to offer me anything…and they said yes! For two weeks I was a resident in their offices and what a lovely place to be!

The offices themselves are located in an old hall with beautiful wooden floorboards and large windows. Book cases and posters lined the walls (plus a coffee machine right by my desk!); I can honestly say I was in heaven. Also, the people were nice – a big point I guess!

I was assigned the task of reading a book, the author of which would be appearing at the festival and providing interview questions. It was a good book and I, for one would not complain if this became my full time job. Aside from this, I spent my time organising press clippings, creating spreadsheets and trying my hand at proof reading.

Proofreading opened my eyes to the skills that I certainly need to work on; such detail went into the program, it quite astounded me. It also developed my grammatical skills – a target to work on in the future. It was great to experience ‘office life’ a bit more and to understand how the place is run. Everyone was lovely and always willing to answer any questions that I threw at them, which contributed to a pleasant two weeks there!

I thoroughly enjoyed working at the Hay Festival and am going to make every effort to return and try to learn more about their international festivals (they run internships). In the mean time, onwards towards some more exciting ventures…

Finalist Party

Buffet, beer and banter were the key words of the night! Well, ‘wine’ was too, but the alliteration sounds far sweeter!

The finalist party was a genial event enjoyed by all who attended, including a mixture of finalist students and staff from the Information Science department. A large and delicious buffet was laid on, along with a free drink for all who popped by quick enough, and staff were leading the way with all forms of merriment to entertain those soon-to-be graduates who they just didn’t need to act academic and robotic in front of anymore!

With sing-songs by Ian Murray, embarassment galore from Janet Harrison to poor, unsuspecting students, and a thank you toast to all who came, the group will surely remember this farewell occasion as one of the best!