Wednesday, January 02, 2013
It's a while since I managed to keep up with reporting things right away or even at all, and here are belated photos of a launch I attended at the end of November, that of Jane Rogers' Hitting Trees with Sticks (Comma), her first short story collection after a string of award-winning novels. The moving title story here was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award; others in the collection were first commissioned by Comma's Ra Page for the science-based anthologies he has published, and previously, at a Manchester Science Festival event, I had heard Jane read her stunning story, 'Morphogenesis', about Alan Turing. Twice now I have heard Jane say that she isn't instinctively a short-story writer and only began writing stories on the urging of Ra, which, since this is the result, goes to show what a great promoter of short stories Ra is. Jane has also been writing for radio - when I was decorating in Wales, a wonderful play by her came on the radio - and 'Where Are You, Stevie?' is a story in four parts with four different narrators, written with radio in mind. At the November evening, Jane read an engaging and finally off-the-wall ghost story from the collection.
She was supported by Annie Clarkson, another contributor to Comma anthologies, who read a beautifully wry and ultimately searing story of two young girls and their elderly male neighbour.
Malkin Child, about the Pendle Witches, which was commissioned by the Lancaster Literature Festival. Livi talked most intriguingly about the subject of the Pendle Witches, and her book's original take on the story - the viewpoint of the young girl Jennet on whose testimony her relatives were convicted. And of course when Livi read I was entranced by the gutsy prose. Apparently the book has been as popular with adults as with teenagers, and it certainly went down well with the adult audience that evening.