Before I launch into my report of this year’s AyeWrite festival, there is one thing to note. Yet again, I have found it impossible to get an in-focus shot of the authors. There’s nothing wrong with my camera as you can see from the pictures it takes when there is no-one on the stage …..
yet put an author up there and all kinds of unfocusing gremlins take over. I think I’m distracted by the microphones. They are always in the way and I’m busy ducking and diving to get an angle where they are less in the way than usual. The outcomes are blurry bad as you will soon see. (My apologies to the author in advance.)
First up this year was Jasper Fforde – an eagerly anticipated event. I saw him at the Edinburgh Book Festival a couple of years ago. At that event, he stood and talked to the audience without any chairperson. He was hilarious and told the only joke I’ve ever remembered …. the one about the three balloons … it still makes me chuckle. But I digress …. this event was far less insane as there was a chairperson directing the proceedings. Although it has to be said that most of the hour was taken up with audience questions during which Jasper showed his characteristic humour and admirable restraint when his self-repairing roads were criticised for not being realistic! Now the questioner had obviously read the new novel “Shades of Grey” but completely missed the plot i.e Fforde is a fantasy writer – when was anything he ever wrote realistic? Yet who am I to criticise – I hereby confess that I got stuck with “Shades of Grey”
at page 80. The sheen of the colour jokes soon faded and not even the fact that my favourite colour – purple – is top shade in this dystopic colourocacy could pull me through. Quite staggering really, I’ve never had this problem with any of Fforde’s previous
novels. However, now that I’ve heard the author explain the current book a little, I may just try again. (Although I note that he would not – a book gets one chapter. If it doesn’t grab him, it’s discarded.)
When asked about his favourite bookshelf, Fforde chose the shelf for oversized books. It was the randomness of the books that are stored there, he said. It imbues freshness and unexpected connections. I liked this idea very much. So I resolved there and then to inject some randomness into the immediate TBR. In keeping with Fforde’s theme and my favourite colour, I resolved to read the first six books I found in the TBR mountain range with purple dustjackets. Here they are: a rich and varied hue, you’ll find, proving that an author event can be inspirational in more ways than one.