Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jasper Fforde kicks off the new Manx Litfest Reading Club!

What's that you say?A reading club? Featuring authors appearing at Manx Litfest? Why. yes!

And below is a press release we've just issued on the very subject - but please note, while it's aimed at IOM media, all you followers and fans who aren't based in the Isle of Man are more than welcome to join in the fun:

Manx Litfest is launching a reading club to promote authors who will attend this year’s inaugural festival in September.

Starting in April, the club will focus on one author each month with the aim of encouraging as many people as possible to read a book by that particular writer.

It will be a ‘virtual’ group – there will be no meetings, but everyone is encouraged to get involved with discussions about the author on Manx Litfest’s blog, Facebook page and on Twitter, and it’s hoped that existing book clubs will want to get involved by reading and discussing the authors as part of their normal programme.

Festival Director John Quirk explained: ‘There are lots of book clubs around the Island. Some are organised by libraries or as part of a larger organisations, such as the WI, and some are just groups of friends who happen to be mad about books and who meet at each other’s houses – or in their local pub, as is often the case!

‘The Manx Litfest reading club will act as a complement to these already existing clubs. We don’t want to replace any groups or draw members away from their clubs, but if they want to read our Litfest authors too, they can join in. Or, as one or two groups have already indicated, they are tweaking their reading list to incorporate our monthly choices.

‘And it’s not a set book each month – you can read any title by the author we’re focusing on, with the goal of discussing their writing in general, not just one particular book. Ultimately, we just want to encourage reading and ensure that when our authors arrive for Manx Litfest, there is an appreciative, well-read audience in place.’

The first author to go under the microscope is Jasper Fforde, author of the Thursday Next series and Nursery Crime series, as well as the young adult book, The Last Dragonslayer, and its sequel, The Song of the Quarkbeast.

‘People keep asking me what genre Jasper writes in, or how I would classify his writing,’ said John. ‘And to be honest, I still don’t know what the best reply is. The Thursday Next series is a mix of humour, fantasy, alternate history and sees Thursday, a “literary detective” based in Swindon, investigating crime in a world where the line between fact and fiction becomes increasingly thin, with characters able to jump in and out of books.

‘For my part, I’m currently reading The Big Over Easy, the first of the Nursery Crime novels. It’s based in the same alternate world as Thursday Next and features Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his sidekick Mary Mary investigating the grizzly demise of a certain Humpty Dumpty. Jasper is an ingenious writer – these books might sound like they are aimed at children, but they are bona fide crime novels, albeit not what you’d normally expect from a crime novel.’

The author focus during May will be on acclaimed crime writer RJ Ellory, author of A Quiet Belief in Angels, The Saints of New York, Candlemoth and A Simple Act of Violence, which was named the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year at the 2010 Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, beating Ian Rankin, Peter James and Mark Billingham.

Manx Litfest will run from Thursday, September 27 to Sunday, September 30 this year. It will feature visiting authors and poets alongside Isle of Man-based writers in a colourful celebration of storytelling.

Among the other names appearing at the festival are Martin Bell MBE, former BBC war correspondent and one-time MP for Tatton, along with Ann Cleeves, Chris Ewan, Jeremy Strong, Elizabeth Buchan, Neil Ansell, Thommie Gillow, Michael Curtis, Tom Palmer and Hilary Robinson.

The main Litfest hub will be the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre complex, with other events held at venues around the Island, including Castle Rushen, Erin Arts Centre and the Manx Museum.                                                                                                                                              Manx Litfest is being supported by the Manx Heritage Foundation and the Isle of Man Arts Council, and is grateful to the support of a host of companies and individuals, including Isle of Man Advertising & PR, Appleby Isle of Man, Words & Spaces, Assist Consultancy, Signrite and local artist Ali Crellin.
Book fans can find out more about the festival plans by visiting and by following on Twitter ( and Facebook (

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