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Felixstowe Book Festival goes online to beat lockdown

PUBLISHED: 18:47 27 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:15 28 May 2020

George Alagiah who is taking part in a digital discussion as part of this year's Felixstowe Book Festival      Photo:Jeff Overs

George Alagiah who is taking part in a digital discussion as part of this year's Felixstowe Book Festival Photo:Jeff Overs

Archant

The highly successful Felixstowe Book Festival was on the verge of cancellation because of Coronavirus but technology has come to its rescue and the event has now moved online, complete with guests. Here is the running order for the weekend

Meg Reid, artistic director of the Felixstowe Book Festival, is taking the event online this year  Photo: Sarah Lucy BrownMeg Reid, artistic director of the Felixstowe Book Festival, is taking the event online this year Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

Star names, engaging guests, lively discussions, great reads Felixstowe Book Festival is refusing to be subdued by the Covid-19 outbreak and has transferred the bulk of its 2020 event online.

Festival director Meg Reid said that despite the lockdown the Felixstowe Book Festival, now in its eighth year, is to be revived as a ‘Virtual Festival’ for 2020. “We’re going digital,” said Meg.

It’s an opportunity to create something positive out of what has been a very frustrating year so far. Her ambition is to have booklovers across Suffolk (and beyond) meeting up at the festival’s online events and enjoying a virtual get-together and relishing the opportunity to ‘meet’ various authors and personalities via streamed discussions.

She said that it was a way of bringing people together and creating sense of community and belonging even during a period of isolation.

Colchester author Liz Trenow is speaking at the Felixstowe Book Festival  Photo: ArchantColchester author Liz Trenow is speaking at the Felixstowe Book Festival Photo: Archant

“It was a huge relief that everyone – the committee, our enthusiastic volunteers, sponsors and the authors – have been able to work together to create a virtual Felixstowe Book Festival for the weekend of June 27/28,” said Meg Reid.

“We waited as long as we could to see how the situation regarding coronavirus worked out, and I was very disappointed that the Festival, that we had spent months planning, looked as though it would have to be cancelled. The new-style festival is very exciting, and I hope that everyone enjoys hearing the authors being interviewed and talking about their work.”

The Felixstowe Book Festival Book Group kick off the on-line festival when author Ruth Dugdall, and librarian and book lover Liz Rastrick, invite everyone to a birthday party to celebrate Anne Bronte’s 200th birthday.

On Friday June 26, at 7.30pm, on Zoom (ID: 858 5444 7275) Nick Holland, a leading authority on the Brontës, will join in to talk about his latest book ‘Crave the Rose: Anne Bronte at 200’. He is also the author of ‘In Search of Anne Bronte’. Nick will reveal Anne’s brilliance as a writer, her tragic death and her life with genius sisters Charlotte and Emily.

Carol Drinkwater who is taking part in an online interview as part of this year's Felixstowe Book Festival   Photo:Felixstowe Book FestivalCarol Drinkwater who is taking part in an online interview as part of this year's Felixstowe Book Festival Photo:Felixstowe Book Festival

There will be six live streamed interviews across Saturday and Sunday June 27-28. They are with BBC newsreader George Alagiah, author of ‘Burning Land’, set in the new South Africa; Nick Cottam, creator of a virtual illustrated tour of the River Deben, ‘Life on the Deben’; author Liz Trenow, her novel ‘Under A Wartime Sky’ is set at Bawdsey Manor; Harriet Tyce will be talking about her tense crime novel, ‘Blood Orange’; Paul French, writer of a Shanghai Noir, ‘City of Devils’ will be talking about his latest work while writer and actress, Carol Drinkwater will be introducing her latest novel ‘The House on the Edge of the Cliff.’

In addition to the author interviews, the Festival website also has videos from Iain Dale talking politics and Paul French answering questions from book group members about China.

Meg added: “I’m also asking some of the other 2020 speakers if they would like to film on their phones, making a short video of themselves in the place where they write, which should be fascinating.”

While Meg is delighted that Felixstowe Book Festival is going ahead, unfortunately the tech-heavy online replacement has been costly to organise, so the Festival has launched a JustGiving page to help cover the costs of the virtual festival. “Any donation, however small, will be much appreciated,” Meg explained. “We are hoping to raise £1000”.

Thames barge Melissa enters the Deben - the book Life on the Deben is discussed at Felixstowe Book Festival 2020   Picture: JEMMA WATTSThames barge Melissa enters the Deben - the book Life on the Deben is discussed at Felixstowe Book Festival 2020 Picture: JEMMA WATTS

To donate to the Felixstowe Book Festival the Just Giving page is here:

Audiences can tune in to listen and to ask questions on the Festival’s Facebook page and on the website.

You may also want to watch:

The streamed authors will be broadcast live at the following times:

Saturday June 27

11am: Harriet Tyce

‘Blood Orange’, has been long-listed for the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year, is a Sunday Times bestseller, and a Richard and Judy top read. A twisty and tense crime novel that raises searching questions about marriage and love, addiction and delusion, and ultimately innocence and guilt.

2pm: Paul French

Paul French is the winner of both the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime and the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction. ‘City of Devils’ is a spell-binding and dramatic true account of Shanghai’s lawless 1930s and of two of its most notorious Jazz Age criminals.

4.30pm: Carol Drinkwater

Carol Drinkwater’s books, which include memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France, have sold over one million copies worldwide. Past and present spectacularly collide in this gripping story of enduring love and betrayal echoing across the decades. She is an award-winning actress best known for playing Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small.

Sunday June 28

11.30am: Liz Trenow

Liz Trenow’s latest novel draws on real life events just before the Second World War, when some of the country’s brightest minds were gathered at Bawdsey Manor, an extraordinary gothic mansion on the Suffolk coast. They have been tasked by Churchill to develop an invention, shrouded in secrecy, that will change the course of the Second World War. In this febrile atmosphere, an unusual relationship develops between a brilliant scientist and a local Felixstowe girl, with potentially disastrous consequences.

2pm: George Alagiah

The exhilarating debut political thriller from the BBC News at Six presenter George Alagiah. The Burning Land is set in the new South Africa where corruption threatens the dreams of its people, frustration turns to violence and a shocking murder sets in motion events no one can control.

4pm: Nick Cottam

Nick Cottam will take you on a virtual journey down the River Deben, based on the book ‘Life on the Deben’, which he co wrote with Tim Curtis, and the film of the same name.

The book tells the story of the 25-mile long River Deben, from its Debenham source to the sea and from Roman times to the present day. Sutton Hoo, the lost port of Goseford, piracy and environmental threats to today’s river all feature.


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