Monday, March 05, 2012

Authors North Spring Meeting 2012: Leeds

The Leeds Art Gallery

in a wet town square

was the venue for the spring meeting of Authors North (Society of Authors) on Saturday.

(gratuitous nudity)

I was going to do a bit of live tweeting, but only managed the one, since I couldn't find a 3G signal. Luckily, however, Colin Shelbourn has since tweeted using the tag #AuthorsNorth I shall write just a quick summary here.

We were lucky enough to have Simon Brett (on the left with Colin who introduced the event) who is author of 86 books as well as an erstwhile radio and television producer (and an actor judging from his talk in which he gave some excellent impressions of people he had worked with during his career). In a hugely entertaining talk he gave us an outline of his career from aged 22 when he was 'master of his own grotto' through the evolution of his successful brand of British comic crime fiction. He pointed out that Reginald Hill had said that by writing crime fiction he had 'never stopped writing about what I wanted to write about' since it can be tailored to a writer's interests.

He tends to know how a book will work out in advance (although not in detail which tends to grow more organically) and commented on the closeness of tragedy and comedy; he favours the maxim 'Wouldn't it be tragic if it weren't funny if..?' over 'Wouldn't it be funny if...?'

One of his recommendations was to read through work after it had been written to make sure there are no ambiguities, and this was a theme in Julia Franklin's talk in the afternoon.

Julia is the narrator of 52 books on Audible (and as many others elsewhere) and has recently written and read her own book Turn Up for the Book (a very funny romantic comedy which I recommend) for her own audio publishing company 'Book Are Loud' which she started last year. With the help of Authors North member Alison Leonard (on the right)

she gave another entertaining account of her experiences in audiobook narrating. She and Alison reiterated the advice to read out work, and also edit downwards, and gave us a good demonstration of what might be achieved by reading out work from her list (including work by The Only Living Boy by Robert Graham, Tar by Helen Sea, Cappuccinos by Diana Bradley, and Alison's Flesh and Bronze (which I have reviewed here). Thanks to the internet, audiobook publishing is growing in popularity because books are now so easy to download onto computers, ipods and mp3 players. Like Alison, I look forward to my download day from Audible every month.

The Art Gallery gave us a good lunch, and after the well-attended meeting, we went back into wet Leeds to search for a bar with Lisa Dowdeswell (the new Authors North secretary from the Society of Authors) Sarah Burton (our 'old' secretary from a couple of years ago we were all very pleased to see again), and member Marianne Wheelaghan, who had come down from Scotland especially to attend.

Thanks to Lisa for organising a particularly entertaining and interesting meeting!


Blogger Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Hi Clare,
a big thanks for posting this. A great summary of a full and informative, and entertaining, day. What great pics too! :) I think what most stands out for me, apart from the gratuitous nudity courtesy of Henry Moore btw a favourite sculptor since I was wee, when I used to clamber all over his reclining mother figures in the Botanics here in Edinburgh - you used to be able to do that in the olden days!Ha! I digress ... hem! What stands out for me from the day was the comment about writing about what you want to write about and tailoring your writing to your own interests. It seems so obvious but it's good to hear it said out loud,and i don't feel nearly so guilty about continuing to do just that :o)

Mon Mar 05, 09:58:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Marianne - yes, I like Henry Moore too, and think the clambering all over by small children should be encouraged - an excellent way of keeping them polished.

I agree about tailoring writing to own interests. I had never thought of this before - but when I heard Simon Brett say that I thought Yes! Of course! Why not?

Mon Mar 05, 10:05:00 pm  
Blogger joanna hickson said...

Thanks for this Clare. I, too was thinking of coming down from Scotland because I'm a big fan of Simon Brett's books and often hear them rather than read them - great to while away long journeys in the car! However I didn't come becaue I am keyboard bashing against a deadline on my own book, so at least now I have a flavour of what went on and what Simon had to say. I didn't get all the laughs though, sadly!

Tue Mar 06, 09:50:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

What a kind comment! Thanks Joanna, all the best with your book.

Tue Mar 06, 10:53:00 am  
Anonymous Alison Leonard said...

Thanks Clare for a lively account of the day - I can vouch for its accuracy, except that you omitted to mention how ably you chaired the afternoon session. Simon Brett is truly the ideal speaker: a laugh a minute, easily - no notes - and underneath, much sound wisdom from a long career in fiction and in the production of scripts as well as their creation. I liked his point that plots are always best if they're character-led, even in highly plotted genres like detective fiction.

Like you I was taken by the links he made between comedy and tragedy. I was pretty sure that Marx (Karl, not Groucho) came up with an apt quotation, but couldn't remember it: have just looked it up and of course (in abbreviated form) it's this: 'History reappears in one fashion or another - first as tragedy, then as farce.'

Tue Mar 06, 04:10:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Great quote, Alison - wise man that Karl Marx

Tue Mar 06, 04:21:00 pm  

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