'When the time came for audience questions, the late, great Iain Banks got the inevitable one. Without pausing he said there was a secret website called www.ideasforwriters.com; ‘You just go there and it generates ideas for you’. '
'I take to the stage at book festivals around the country, doing around twenty to thirty chairing gigs a year. I’ve looked Derren Brown in the eye, facing down predictions from friends that he would hypnotise me into talking gibberish.'
'My first year at Latitude it was baking with sunshine and I ended up having a drink under a tree with John Cooper Clarke, who heard one of my gloomy poems and called me 'Sylvia'.'
Laura Hird speaks with Geoff Hattersley about her beginnings as a writer of bleak and gritty short stories, the real reason her first novel was written in four different voices, and how she gave her mother a literary afterlife in ‘Dear Laura’.
Literary festivals are sprouting all over the UK, from Dartington to Althorp. But do visitors roll up for the literature, or the seafood wraps? And why is the whole phenomenon run on shoestring economics, with the writers themselves the last to be paid? Mark McCrum reflects on the festival vogue, and says it may be time for a new touring model.