I travelled east three times last week (by train not in a hot air balloon!) to the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The theme for this year’s programme was ‘Around the World’ to showcase some of the most interesting authors from across the planet.
The first event I attended had the title, ‘Can We Ever Escape From Ourselves?’ and featured Karen Campbell and Peter Stamm. This combo initially seemed an odd match but it soon became apparent that both authors shared a common theme in their latest novels. You can read my review of Karen’s book, Rise, here but to give you a wee taster it’s set in Argyllshire where several characters cross paths who are all on the run from past experiences that haunt them.
Peter’s book, All Days Are Night, is set in Switzerland and is an exploration of how a high-profile woman struggles to make sense of her life after a horrific crash which results in requiring facial reconstruction. A person’s sense of identity and the search for inner peace was discussed by both writers and the thought-provoking events raised more questions than answers leaving the audience hanging on every word.
I bobbed back to Edinburgh with hubby two days later to hear another engaging author delving into issues with an international flavour. This time it was the turn of acclaimed actress Meera Syal who spoke to a packed audience about her new novel, The House of Hidden Mothers in the ‘Dreams of Motherhood and Freedom‘ event.
I read the book recently and it was an eye-opener as I’d no idea that India was the cheapest place for ‘fertility tourism’ as poverty makes Indian women happy to bear children for infertile western couples who find the costs lower and the legislation less stringent. The contrast between the affluent main character in London (known as a Non Resident Indian) and the deprived surrogate mother in rural India was fascinating and promoted questions from the audience over the ethics of this ‘rent a womb’ business and feminist issues related to the changing role of women in different cultures.
My third trip east was to meet some of my fellow ThunderPoint authors. This was a great chance for me to build new friendships and to learn from the experience of those who’ve already trodden the publication path. It was exciting too to see their books on display in the festival’s book store and I hope that this time next year my novel will join theirs on the shelves. All three of the ThunderPoint writers have set their books in Scotland (although Margot’s characters also hop across the water to Rathlin Island in Ireland) so if you’re interested in quality Scottish fiction I’d highly recommend you check out the work of Margot McCuaig, Jackie McLean and Helen Forbes (who has the same name as my beloved gran – another born storyteller!).
10 thoughts on “Around the World in 3 Days”
What a fabulous festival you’ve had. Looking forward to visiting the festival again, but hopefully next time to see a Thunderpointer inside a yurt!
It was Margot. My original plan was only to make one trip but with the chance of a freebie ticket to Karen’s event and meeting you, Jackie and Helen it turned into three jaunts.
Sounds like all 3 visits were well worth it. Helen Forbes’s book is excellent and I’m looking forward to having your book beside it on the shelf.
I’d only planned on going to Meera’s event but ended up there 3 times! Helen is a lovely person and I hope to meet up with her again. I haven’t read her book (I’m not a fan of crime fiction) but I trust your recommendation so will give it a go. Hope you enjoy mine!
Sounds like 3 fab days Helen… had my eye on Meera Syals novel for a while, all the more hearing the audience & your response.
Following loving yours I’ve a few more Thunderpoint books to read & review inc Jackie’s & Margot’s😊
I did enjoy the issues explored in The House of the Hidden Mothers but I wasn’t a fan of the constant ‘head hopping’ POVs as it felt as if every character, even very minor ones, had a ‘voice’.
Haha… I can hear my old CW tutor crying ‘but whose story is it’ I enjoy more than one narrative but yes can appreciate there’s a limit before it becomes almost too distracting, too noisy even. Just read a great piece from Tesla Hadley this morning on importance of viewpoint:
Exactly! Thanks for the link. Will read it asap. 🙂
You do get around, Helen! We are in a literary desert here – I have to imagine events.
Meera Syal’s book sounds fascinating. One to add to the wishlist.
Always great to read you. I try to respond – it’s the ruddy writing that gets in the way! And of course, I can’t wait to READ you! xXx
Ha! You’re right Carol, I do get about in the best possible sense! I’m lucky that I live roughly halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow so there are lots of literary events in the central belt. Meera’s book raised interesting issues but as I mentioned in my reply to Poppy I think it featured way too many POVs to really bond with individual characters. Looking forward to reading you too x