Friday, November 25, 2011

Calling all Tolkien fans...

As any serious fan of JRR Tolkien will know, next year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit - not to mention that the end of the year will see the release of the first part of The Hobbit movie.

So what would any self-respecting litfest do to celebrate such an occasion? Why, sign up a respected Tolkien scholar, of course.

So we're just a little bit delighted to announce that Colin Duriez, Tolkien biographer and walking Middle Earth encyclopedia, has agreed to attend our inaugural litfest in September next year. Colin has a new biography of Tolkien out late next year (yes, fingers are crossed that it will be available in time for the litfest) and this follows previous books The Tolkien Handbook and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings - A Guide to Middle Earth.

Colin also serves as conference director for Festival in the Shire, a celebration of all things Tolkien held each year at Pafiliwn Bont in Wales, and was one of the commentators used by Peter Jackson for the extended DVD versions of his Lord of the Rings movies.

What's more, Colin's expertise doesn't just run as far as Tolkien - he's also written several books about Narnia creator CS Lewis, including a book charting Lewis and Tolkien's close friendship. And for fans of Hogwarts, he's also the author of The Unauthorised Harry Potter Companion.

So, welcome onboard, Colin - we're looking forward to welcoming you to the Isle of Man next September. Oh, and please try to think on and bring some fine weather with you...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The publicity bubble

Publicity generated by the media - including all this social media of blogs, Facebook and Twitter etc - can be somewhat misleading. When you're organising an event, large or small, you do what you can to get the word out there; it appears in the newspapers and on the radio, you tweet and facebook about it. People follow you, or like you, and support what you're doing by making comments and, hopefully, spreading the word.

News about Manx Litfest has, over the last year or so, appeared in the Manx Independent and Courier a few times, been in Manx Tails a couple of times, the BBC Isle of Man website, featured on Manx Radio on more than just a few occasions; we've built up 218 or so followers on Facebook, and 330-odd on Twitter. We've been out and met with a few book groups, touched base with organisations such as the WI, spoken with various sponsors and venues, including Manx National Heritage re all its various sites. And we've been spreading the news by word-of-mouth with just about everyone we meet.

And when you talk on Facebook and Twitter to followers, within the bubble of publicity we've created, it's easy to think that everyone knows what we're up to. Let's face it - you'd think that, on an island of, what, 90,000 people (give or take), it wouldn't be too hard for word to spread like the proverbial wildfire.

But it ain't that easy.  Sure, there's plenty of folk who know what we're trying to achieve. But when I'm out and about meeting people, I mention Manx Litfest and more times than I'd like the response is a blank expression, a shake of the head, and the words: 'Nope. Don't know anything about it...'

It can be rather disheartening. It's clear there's still a stack-load of publicity to still to do. There are parts of the Isle of Man we need to reach - and not forgetting further afield around the British Isles. Clearly, a literary festival isn't for everyone. There are people, so rumour has it, who don't read books. I know. I can't believe it either. But there are many who do. And we want to reach them.

So, a plea to everyone reading this - if you could, tell just one person, each day, and help spread the word. If you're part of a group - be it sports, arts, a charity, a social club - tell those involved. In the next few weeks, you'll start to see posters and flyers about Manx Litfest appearing in book stores and libraries etc. If you see a flyer, take one - if you already have one, pick up another and pass it to someone you know who loves books. If you have somewhere in your office/shop/club where you could put up a poster or two, drop us an email - manxlitfest(at) and we'll pop a few posters in the post to you. Same thing if you have somewhere to store a stack of flyers.

It's all about reaching the readers. There are plenty of you out there. So let's hook up.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Behind the scenes...

We're on countdown. Less than twelve months to go now, until the first ever Manx Litfest rocks into town. Behind the scenes, things are moving pretty fast. In fact, about just as fast as the days and weeks are scarily slipping by.

We are tantalisingly close to announcing several items of big news, including details of venue, the first authors who have signed up and an idea of a few of the events, including how we foresee the festival 'hub' taking shape.

All that, and more, will be announced over the next month or so. Believe me - we're desperate to get news out there to the blog/facebook/twitter fans and followers who have been supporting our efforts thus far. So just a little more patience and you will be richly rewarded, in a literary wellbeing kind of way.

On a day-to-day basis, work continues on developing the website - thanks to the support of the guys at Isle of Man Advertising & PR - and in incorporating Manx Litfest as a charitable organisation, courtesy of the team at Appleby Isle of Man.

Aside from that, we're laptop-deep writing letters and reports and filling in application forms for support from a variety of trusts and foundations, and preparing press releases and liasing with media - both on-Island and around the UK - to publicise the festival over the coming months. And meetings. Gazillions of meetings.

It's pretty intense - so, if we do seem a little quiet and distant at times, like a teenage sweetheart just before they dumped you, don't worry. We're still here. And we won't dump you. Providing you promise to come to events, of course, and buy a Manx Litfest mug/T-shirt/pen (or hip flask - I'm really pushing for a hip flask...)

Right. That's all for now, folks.

Happy reading.

John Q

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A new logo - courtesy of the talented Alison Crellin

Those of you with Action Man eagle eyes will no doubt have spotted something slightly different about our Twitter and Facebook profiles these last couple of days.

If you haven't noticed anything, can I suggest you get yourself down to Toymaster pretty sharpish and get one of those flicky switches installed in the back of your head.

What are we rattling on about? Why, the new Manx Litfest logo, of course!

A while back, we asked if any IOM-based designers/artists fancied devising a logo or two and submitting them to us, with the plan being we'd choose our favourite to be used in the run-up to next year's festival. Many logos from several designers/artists pinged their way into our inbox and it was a tough choice.

Ultimately, we liked what Ali had done and went back to her with a couple of suggestions - and, hey presto, she dazzled us again with more options. The Manx Litfest team unanimously fell for the one above/right and it will be used to brand literature, the forthcoming website and our social media presence.

It will also form the basis of a range of merchandise - we can't wait to see the logo emblazoned across a T-shirt or adorning a mug etc...

So, our eternal thanks to Ali. She is indeed a woman of many talents - and a busy one at that; an artist, she also teaches an evening class in photography at IOM College, is a part-time library assistant at Henry Bloom Noble Library in Douglas and works full-time at Waterstones.

You can find out more about her on twitter by following @agc_art or by visiting her on Tumblr

 Thanks again, Ali!

Friday, September 9, 2011

We've only gone and landed a sponsor for our website...

As this here internet malarkey is rather important in this day and age, or so we're told, one of the key points we've been focusing on over the last couple of months is a website - what it should look like, what it needs to do, what the public will expect from it. That kind of thing.

So, you won't be at all surprised to hear that we're all just a little bit pumped about the news that we have a sponsor for the Manx Litfest website...

The guys at Isle of Man Advertising & PR have very kindly agreed to look after the design and build of the site and we'll be meeting them next week to get our heads together and brief them on what we're looking for.

Joking aside, it's a fantastic offer of support. When it comes to attracting authors - and, indeed, potential visitors from off-Island - the website is going to be key. It needs to look the part and show folk that we mean business, so we're delighted to have the team at Isle of Man Advertising on board and joining our team of sponsors (whose names and links you can see on the top right of this here page).

We'll keep everyone posted as to how the site is developing and the kind of features we're incorporating. Until then, thanks once again to our latest sponsors - the support really is very much appreciated.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Coming soon, to a screen near you...

One of the ideas cast forth into the great litfest melting pot at the last committee meeting was this - how about making a documentary, following our adventures in pulling together, and staging, the first festival.

After a stunned silence, there were murmurs. A documentary. A film. Charting the ups and downs that we're bound to face over the next thirteen months. The looks around the table said, 'you know, that's not a bad bloody idea'. Then, of course, individuals started to realise they'd probably have to appear in the documentary. You know, be filmed and everything. Hmm...

Unpeturbed, we decided to investigate. None of us are filmmakers. Some of us have limited experience in certain areas, and the word 'limited' is probably stretching it. So we sought out those who do know a little bit. At lunchtime today I headed out to meet Christy DeHaven and Dave Armstrong, who along with their day job of looking after things at DAM Productions, are heavily involved in the Mannin Shorts initiative.

It was a good chat (thanks for the tea, Christy) and they've given us some great ideas. I'm not sure if there is enough of a market to produce a final documentary based on our experiences - the worthiness of such a project will, as we discussed today, depend largely on how things progress; if there are arguments of volcanic eruption proportions, flouncing strops that make X-Factor look serene and numerous cock-ups/letdowns mixed with ecstatic successes, then maybe, just maybe, it would make something to attract interest. If, on the other hand, the plans for the litfest run smoothly, with barely a word uttered in anger... well, who's going to want to watch that, apart from our mums, grandmothers and great aunts?

One suggestion is to chart the next year by way of developing these here ramblings into something of a video blog, which I think could work. We'd use our flip video camera to film meetings, site visits, interviews with those involved (including authors) and so on. And then we'd gauge how things are going from a content side, and perhaps get Dave and Christy involved for certain major meetings or events in the build up, cutting the two aspects (our amateur footage with their polished material) together for a final product - assuming we deem it worthwhile.

We've another committee meeting this coming Monday, when all this will be put on the table. And, providing we can convince those involved that they really don't look all that bad on camera, we might get somewhere.
Keep watching this space.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Dates confirmed for Manx Litfest 2012 - September 28-30

So, we're finally there. After much contemplation in the early days as to whether to stage a literature festival - indeed, whether the Island wanted a festival - and more latterly as to when might be the best time to hold such an event, we've finally announced the dtates.

Manx Litfest will take place over the weekend of September 28-30 next year, although it may well end up being a four-day event, starting on the Thursday (Sept 27).

Despite all the effort and meltdown of brains that has gone into getting us this far, as some vindictive soul mentioned on Twitter the other day, the hard work starts now. We're in the process of talking to possible venues, drawing up a list of authors to approach, continuing to publicise the litfest, working on a website and drafting sponsorship proposals to knock the socks of potential sponsors.

Although there's a long way to go, we know that the next fourteen months will zip by, and with the dates now fixed, Manx Litfest has suddenly taken some sort of shape, although at this stage it feels like The Mummy does early in that Brendan Fraser romp - it has taken on a physical and menacing presence, but is very short of actual flesh on the bones.

But that will come in time, with each announcement of either an author signing up to appear or an event/venue being confirmed.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support so far, be it on Facebook or Twitter, or here on the blog, or the encouraging emails we've received. Not forgetting our supporters/sponsors - the Isle of Man Arts Council and Appleby Isle of Man. We hope everyone is excited as we are, if that is indeed possible.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A little advice on ordering books, the need for writers to socialise and top tips on how not to get right up authors' noses

Some of the most useful advice, ideas and general background skeet on existing festivals that we've received has come direct from authors.

Last week we had the chance to pick the brains of an author (who is hoping to have a free slot in his diary to attend the first Manx Litfest) and one of the most interesting - and potentially challenging - points he raised related to the supply of books for signing at events by writers.

Whichever bookstore is involved in supplying the books for a particular event (and ensuring an even spread among the bookstores is going to be a challenge all in itself) has to take a bit a shot in the dark when predicting how many books to order. The issue for smaller bookshops (or any bookshop, for that matter) is that they don't want to a) be left with stock after the event that they may not be able to shift or b) have to pay for shipping unsold stock back to UK, the cost of which will likely put a major hole in any profit they may have made on the night. This is something we need to discuss with bookstores in the coming weeks and months. 

The isssue of paying authors to attend also came up - but that is something we're keen to do anyway, as we've mentioned before.

There were some additions to our 'list of things that could potentially piss off an author'. They tend to be fairly obvious points - such as running out of books to sign/sell - and generally revolve around making sure they are looked after reasonably well. Why is this so important? Pretty obvious - apart from the fact that we're nice people and we want to show authors a good time anyway, the bottom line is that we're looking to build a strong reputation on the litfest calendar. If we treat authors poorly, word will undoubtedly get around. It's that simple.

Geography was another issue ro raise its head - as in the locations to be used, and the benefits/drawbacks of having events spread around, or most of them taking place within a central hub. This is a crucial factor and one that we're giving much thought to at the moment. Some difficult decisions like ahead, that's for sure.

There was one final point made - authors like to socialise, and there is usually a central bar/pub where they hang out with each other and mingle/drink with fans. I think it's best if I offer to research this element myself.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Counting down...

By early next week, we should have announced the dates for the first Manx Litfest in 2012. It's been a slow, drawn-out process making the decision. There have been so many factors to consider, some of which we'd anticipated, others that arose during the much banging-of-heads-on-desk that was done.

There were the various existing Isle of Man events to consider (ie avoid), the already-chock-full calendar of literary festivals around the British Isles to take into account, other major international festivals taking place further afield, school holidays... the list was long.

You'll hear about the dates in the media, read about it here, and see it on Facebook and Twitter (assuming you follow us. If you don't, then head over to those links and get on with it. We'll wait. Right, can we continue?)

We're pretty happy with the dates. Yes, that's tempting fate. But right now, fate wouldn't dare stick her nose in. It's been that kind of process, she's likely to get her nose broken. The weekend in question is, as far as we can tell, free of any kind of reasonably sized event in the Island. And while it will clash with a few festivals around the British Isles, that was always going to happen, and the time we've picked is one of the quietest on the festival circuit. So hopefully we're on to a winner.

Now we've fixed on the date, we can start approaching authors to gauge a) their availability and b) their interest. As and when we have names to announce, you can be sure we'll be doing so, complete with a little jig.

Much of the organising so far for Manx Litfest has been behind-the-scenes kind of stuff, laying the groundwork. But we can feel the pace starting to pick up, and that will certainly happen once the dates are announced and everyone has a goal to work towards.

Okay, I've said enough for now. Tune in tomorrow, when we'll be back with a few words about some of the pitfalls we're expecting to encounter...


Friday, June 17, 2011

Your favourite... crime fiction

Over on Facebook and Twitter, we've been grilling folk on their favourite books/authors - but doing so genre by genre. First up it was crime fiction, followed by science fiction a couple of nights ago. Keep an eye out for more discussions coming soon.

The feedback for both crime and science fiction was superb - so much so, that rather than lose all the ideas after the threads become old hat, we thought we'd gather the suggestions for each genre on the blog. So first up, crime fiction - here are the books/authors who got under people's skin:

As you can see, a diverse spread of authors and books there. Of those 33 named, I've read work by just nine of them - and I consider myself a crime fiction fan. Just goes to show, there's so much talent out there, it's a tough job keeping up as a reader.

Check out the list, follow the links and hope you find a some new good reads.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Manx Litfest 2012 - dates to be confirmed soon

In our last post, we mentioned a little matter of announcing the dates for the first ever Manx Litfest. Well, we're close now - but not quite there yet.

What we can say is that we've narrowed it down to September 2012, providing the weekends we are looking at during that month can accommodate us. We're fairly confident though, and would hope to be able to confirm the dates within the next couple of weeks following a meeting with the Isle of Man Arts Council.

You should also hear some news about the winner of our logo comp, which we're again aiming to firm up during the next few weeks.

In other news, our legal supporter Appleby Isle of Man is drawing up the relevant paperwork to officially register Manx Litfest as a company with charitable status, and that should come to fruition within the next couple of months.

Finally in this quick update - if you're not following us on Facebook or Twitter, please feel free to do so and help spread the word about what we're trying to achieve.

More news coming soon...


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Appleby Isle of Man joins the Litfest crew as legal advisers

Great news, Manx Litfest fans - we can officially announce that law firm Appleby Isle of Man is on board as legal support/advisers.

One of the most challenging aspects of getting a festival up and running is the legal issues - setting ourselves up as a limited company with charitable status. There's the memorandum of association, articles of association, dealings with the Attorney General's office, registration with the Companies Registry - I don't know about you, but I was lost at 'memorandum'...

We are, therefore, delighted to announce that Appleby Isle of Man has agreed to offer us advice and support over the coming months to help put the litfest on a firm footing. 

Who are Appleby? With offices in key offshore jurisdictions of the Isle of Man, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Mauritius and the Seychelles, it's the leading provider of offshore legal, fiduciary and administration services. That's who. They've also got offices in London, Hong Kong and Zurich, so as you can imagine, it feels good to have such a big name player on our team.

With initial funding in place from the Isle of Man Arts Council, and now Appleby on board as our first sponsor, it feels like things are starting to take shape.

We've got more news bubbling away, but can't reveal just yet. What's that? You want a teaser? Oh, okay. The dates for the first Manx Litfest in 2012. How do you like those apples?

Watch this space...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the hunt for IOM-based reading groups

Without wanting to state the bleeding obvious, the Isle of Man's reading groups (who who knows, maybe even further afield) will be a key market for Manx Litfest.

They are out there. We know they exist. We've spoken to one or two, but there are a whole gaggle of reading groups of whom we're not aware. Over the next month or so, we're looking to put that right. As part of the drive to get the Manx Litfest name out there, we want to make contact with groups and, hopefully, go along and meet them.

This will give serve two main purposes - it will give us the chance to let the groups know about the festival and what it entails; and, second, it will give the groups the opportunity to tell us what, and who, they'd like to see at the festival.

So, if you're a member of a reading group, get in touch and let's get talking. If you know of a group, either pass on their details to us, or tell them to get in touch with us at manxlitfest(at)

Cheers for listening, folks.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Up and running...

Couple of things to report on:

Our first formal meeting takes place tomorrow night (Weds March 23) and, if the size of the agenda is anything to go by, we should be finished by this time next week. We're going to need plenty of tea bags, that's for sure, not to mention a tonne of biscuits.

There are a few key issues that will take centre stage tomorrow - establishing the committee, looking at extra posts we need to create (and fill) and how best to utilise the growing army of people (that's you kind folk out there) who have offered to get involved and help out in some way.

We need to start draw up a shortlist of potential dates between June and October 2012 for when the festival can be held. And we need to get a bank account opened and the festival up and running as formal organisation.

The need for a bank account leads into our second bit of news. We received confirmation from the Isle of Man Arts Council that it is awarding us a grant for the 2011/12 financial year, to help towards admin costs and publicity materials. We're hugely grateful for this funding, as it gives us a starting platform. However, if we're to do everything that needs to be done over the coming twelve months, then we're going to need more finance.

While this blog suits its purpose, we need to start thinking about creating a festival website. Ideally, we need to visit a festival in the UK to see how it operates, to meet and talk with organisers, punters and authors. And there is a raft of additional expenses that will be incurred during the next year.

So we'll be seeking some corporate sponsorship, not to mention any wealthy individuals who a) love books and b) have a desire to help bring this festival to life. If you are one of these individuals, then please do get in touch. If you know anyone who may fit this description, please pass on our details to them.

So there you have it. During the next couple of weeks we should be set on a formal footing, and begin to plot a steady course towards the first festival taking place in the second half of next year.

These are exciting times - if you're behind what we're planning to do, show your support and, if you can, get involved. As the event draws closer, we'll need more and more assistance.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We called, you answered...

We asked for potential venues. And, by 'eck, you gave them to us. Some we already had on our list, others we'd not considered. But each and every one of them has some degree of potential.
We'd already spoken with Manx National Heritage regarding its sites and Tynwald Mills/St John's Mill, and received a warm thumbs up for all, subject, of course, to various factors. In terms of heritage sites, we're looking at Castle Rushen, Peel Castle, Rushen Abbey, Manx Museum, Cregneash, Sound Cafe and so on. And later this month we're also meeting the owner of Greeba Castle, the one-time home of the late great Manx novelist, Sir Hall Caine.

So, alongside the likes of bookstores and libraries, where else is in the mix? Here are some suggestions we received - and thanks to Trish for many of these, and Angela and Harry at Bridge Bookshop in Port Erin for several others:
  • Erin Arts Centre
  • Callows Yard
  • Villa Marina
  • King William's College
  • Bradda Glen (being refurbed)
  • Laxey Pavilion
  • Ard Whallin & Eairy Cushlin - supper and ghost stories perhaps?
  • Peel Centenary Centre
  • Noble's Park
  • Snaefell Cafe (being refurbished, apparently)
  • The Old Prison on Victoria Road - 'a great location for crime/thriller fan' (thanks, Ady). Guess it will depend on what happens with the site over the next year or so
  • The Grandstand
  • Home of Rest for Old Horses
  • The refurbed 'Bowl' stadium
  • The old amphitheatre on Douglas Head
  • Various golf courses/clubhouses
  • Sulby Claddaghs
  • Silverdale
  • The Island's fantastic glens
  • Campsites, such as Glen Wyllin
  • A variety of pubs, most of which have function rooms which could be used
  • Restaurants, such as the Garisson, which has a private area upstairs
  • Town halls/civic centres
There are more, of course, and over the next few months we'll consider them all and speak to those involved with the sites to assess their suitability and the practicalities of putting on events.
Thanks again to everyone who gave us input - much appreciated. As I keep saying, we need as much support from you lot out there, the reading public, to make this festival happen.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lit Fest venues - any suggestions?

One of the most important elements for Manx Lit Fest will be the venues we choose for the various events.

From the outset, we've been keen to create something that punters will savour as an 'experience', rather than just another talk in a character-less conference room. If we're going to charge people X number of pounds for an event, then we want to give them something that little bit extra.

Yesterday we were out meeting the team at Tynwald Mills and St John's Mill. They gave us some great words of encouragement, and threw some ideas into the pot for good measure. If you've never had a look around St John's Mill, you're missing out. It's a cracking centre, ideal for events from small groups up to 90-odd, although it can take upwards of 150 in total across the three floors. Great potential as a venue for some elements of the festival, as is Tynwald Mills itself.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we're meeting Manx National Heritage to discuss using the likes of Castle Rushen, Peel Castle and Rushen Abbey as venues. Initial discussion suggests MNH is keen to get involved, and hopefully there will be more to update after tomorrow.
Other possible sites (and these are just ideas at this stage, as we've not met with owners yet) are Greeba Castle, Milntown and the Nunnery.

So what other venues around the Island do you think may lend themselves to the festival? Let us know, and we'll consider them all.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Calling artists & designers...

So here we go. As we've mentioned over the last few days on facebook and twitter, we're looking for support from IOM-based artists/designers, or indeed those who are Manx-born but now living elsewhere.

The Manx Lit Fest needs a logo. As fantastic and cool as we can get. As you can probably imagine, we don't have any funding to pay the creative talent behind the winning design hundreds and thousands of pounds. Or any of the cake topping either, for that matter.

So what's in it for you?

First, your design - and, by association, your name - will be linked with the Lit Fest for the next eighteen months or so. We certainly won't be shy in plugging the brilliance behind the chosen logo, that's for sure.

Second, you're sure to feel all warm and fuzzy inside for doing us such a good turn.

Third, you'll have our undying love and gratitude.

Now I realise that you can't take any of the above to the bank. And we're certainly not expecting everyone to drop what they're working on to rush off and design a logo which may or may not be chosen. But if you have a little time spare, or if you're looking for a side project to fill in a gap between jobs, then maybe you can help us out.

If you are interested in designing a logo, drop us a line at manxlitfest(at) and I'll be happy to expand on what I've said here. Or, if you know anyone who you think may want to getting involved, please pass on our details.

In terms of timescale, we'd like to hear from artists/designers by March 15, with potential logos designed and over to us by April 15. Once they are all in, we'll make a decision fairly quickly and the chosen design will be incorporated into publicity and our online presence fairly sharpish.

So, has that snagged your interest? I hope so, but do get in touch if you need me to expand on anything.

We'll also be putting this out to the media, so keep an eye out in the local papers, on radio and online.

Thanks for your time.

John Q


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Don't be shy now, get stuck in and support us

It's less than a week to go until our application for funding assistance by the IOM Arts Council is considered. We've asked for support for 2011/12, even though the festival is earmarked for the following financial year.

We've been fairly quiet publicly of late, but there's been plenty going on behind the scenes - and there should be regular updates on this blog from here on in. If successful, funding for 2011/12 would go towards publicity, admin costs and research - there are a thousand and one things that need doing.

The next major step will be formalising a committee, after which we'll draw up a list of roles/tasks, and recruiting (unpaid, of course!) for folk interested in helping out. Some of the jobs will require quite a lot of time and commitment, others should be far more straightforwad and not as time comsuming - so there should be something for everyone.

Right, a couple of points to end:

1. Please do get involved with our online presence - following this blog, following on twitter or facebook, or emailing/facebooking/tweeting our links to your own friends and followers. It is a HUGE help in speading the word. And get involved - comment on what we say and link to it (even if you disagree), and ask questions, generate debate. The more the merrier.

2. We're compiling a mailing list for those who want to be kept bang up-to-date with how the Manx Lit Fest develops over the coming year or so. If you want to be included, drop us a line - manxlitfest(at) - with your preferred email, and a postal address should you wish to receive the udpates as hard copies.

Okay, that's enough for now. Tonight we're off to a meeting at the Claremont Hotel, called by an artist from Peel, who I understand wants to discuss ways in which those involved in the arts in the IOM - be they writers, artists, musicians - can work together, explore ideas and discuss potential projects. Sounds fascinating, and ideal for what we're working towards.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Movies about books - what's your favourite?

With this being the first post in a while, I was going to report back from the Literary Society meeting in November, when members - and some guests - discussed the potential for a literary festival on this fair isle. I had to miss the meeting, but I had a trusty spy there, who gave me the lowdown.

But, well, reports smack of admin, and I'd hate this post to end with your unconscious forehead crashing onto your keyboard. So how about a bit of bit of fun research...? We'll save the report till the next post.

One of the ideas thrown into the mix at a recent meeting with the IOM Arts Council (as an aside, we've downloaded grant/underwriting application forms for 2011/12, deadline is February 8) was to stage screenings of writing-related movies.

One of my favourites is Wonder Boys. Released in 2000, it won a raft of nominations and awards from various critics, but was largely ignored by the public, which was a shame, but perhaps understandable, as it lacked explosions, violence (although a poor dog does get it) and sex.

It follows a couple of days in the life of Professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas), a lecturer who has spent the last seven years failing to follow up his critically acclaimed debut novel. His wife has left him, he's having an affair with the Dean's wife, his nagging editor is in town for the university's lit fest, and he's babysitting his best student, who claims to be living out of a locker in the bus station. Oh, and his proposed 250-page manuscript has crept up to the 2,500-page mark...

It's a lovely film, beautifully directed by Curtis Hanson, with - arguably - a career best performance from Douglas (far less showy than Gordon Gekko) and a fine cast behind him; Robert Downey Jnr, before his Iron Man comeback, as the editor, a pre-Spider-Man Tobey Maguire as student, James Leer, Frances McDormand as the Dean's wife and 'Screamer' as the dead dog, Poe.

So there's your starter for ten. There are plenty to choose from - Misery, Capote, The Hours, the brilliant Barton Fink, Adaptation to name a few - but don't let me influence you.

Assuming we can arrange a venue, and we can get a print of a particular movie, which films would you like to see screened at the festival...?