Meeting authors who you’ve read for years

Festival review by Bridget Osborne

September 2018

Photographs above: Kate Mosse; Ann Cleeves

Kate Mosse and Ann Cleeves at the 2018 Chiswick Book Festival

The relationship between a writer and a reader is an intimate one. When you’ve been reading someone’s books over many years, enjoying them to the extent that you put your life on hold while you get to the end of one book and then look forward to the next, you feel you know them and to some extent you have ownership over their characters.

So it’s a bit of a risk going to see them live. They may not live up to expectations. You might not like them in the flesh or agree with what they say about their creations. It could be a huge let down.

But it wasn’t. I went to see historical novelist Kate Mosse (author of Labyrinth, Sepulchre, Citadel, The Winter Ghosts and The Taxidermist’s Daughter) and Ann Cleeves, the crime writer whose books are behind the TV drama series Shetland and Vera at the Chiswick Book Festival and they were lovely. They both just love writing and feel privileged to be successful enough to do just that. They were warm and funny and happy to share their characters with us. “Reading is an active process not a passive one” said Ann. Handing over a finished book to the public was “like handing a child over for adoption”. Once you’ve done that, you have no further say in their development; you just hope that others will care about them as you have done.

Read more about Kate Mosse and her latest book The Burning Chambers – in which she returns to Carcassonne and the French religious wars –  here.  It’s the first of four books in a family saga spanning 300 years.

You can read more about Ann Cleeves, the making of Vera and her last and final book in the Shetland series Wild Fire, published just two weeks before the 2018 festival here.