Stairwell Books, a Small Press publisher founded by Rose Drew, was recently involved with the York Literature Festival. The group specialise in poetry anthologies, short stories and novels. On Wednesday, Rose brought along a few of her authors to the Basement Bar in York for a night of literary discussion, debating what truly makes a great novel.
By Kate McHugh
Each author took to the stage to promote their published work, provoking the audience to think about what it is that makes books so captivating. The crowd was then encouraged to pick apart the speaker with any questions.
First up was Clint Wastling, who jumped straight in to discussing his book The Geology of Desire. The writer explained how the novel’s various timeframes allowed him to integrate his love for fossil hunting into the text. Geology might not be everyone’s cup of tea but Clint managed to keep the audience engaged with his charisma, going so far as to encourage a singalong with a poem from the book. By the end of his talk everyone was laughing.
Next was AL Michaels, talking about her work Wine Dark, Sea Blue and its blurring of fiction and inspiration from her own life. She showed that sometimes novels do work best when you write about what you know. Michaels is also known for her Chick Lit, which brought up questions of how different genres can be considered inferior.Before a brief interval, there was a talk on the charity SASH- an organisation who work to provide long-term, safe housing for young people in crisis. SASH recently ran a competition giving opportunities for publication in their anthology Homeless. They accumulated 120 entries, 22 of which were shortlisted.
After the interval, it was Shaunna Harper’s turn to talk about her novel, Homeland. Interestingly, she explained how her writing relates to everything that is unfamiliar to her. An example she gave was her preference to write her books from a male perspective.
Last but not least, it was author Pauline Kirk who took the stage. Not only is Pauline a solo author and poet, she also writes crime novels in partnership with her daughter under the alias PJ Quinn. The crowd was eager to discover how this dynamic worked. Pauline joked that it had thankfully not made them want to kill each other.
The night wasn’t serious but full of laughter and playfulness. There was a buzz of inspiration in the air as everyone left. It wouldn’t be surprising if a few attendees took to their laptops and started writing, spurred on by this interesting, thought-provoking event.
Stairwell Books: Meet the Authors took place as part of York Literature Festival at The Basement on Wednesday 25 March 2015.