Kindling a story: how visual art sparked three novels
Writers in the Hall at Exeter Street Hall
Friday 27 February 2015
A 1920s missionary map of India, a pewter statue of a Welsh worker, and a painting of a rallying crowd had enough of an impact on three writers living locally to be the catalyst for novels, now published.
At this wonderful, inspiring event, Suzanne Joinson (A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar), Vanessa Gebbie (A Coward’s Tale) and Niyati Keni (Esperanza Street) generously shared insights into the writing process.
Far from ‘get up at the same time each day, sharpen your pencils and don’t speak to anyone ‘til you’ve written 1500 words’, they told of where – really where – their characters came from. Joinson’s box of letters she rescued from the rain was a tale of enviable serendipity; Gebbie’s confession that, as the granddaughter of the Welsh mining family at the centre of her book, she loved writing it, was heart-warming; Keni’s revelation that her first draft was left in a drawer ‘til she was ‘grown up enough’ to revisit it, would have been encouraging to anyone with a dusty manuscript shouting failure at them. The writers were fascinating to listen to.
This candlelit event in the fabulous space which is The Hall was one of the best literary events I’ve attended.
This review also appears in the Argus for March 2nd, 2015.