Oxford Literary Festival 2018

1 Feb 2018

Upcoming events at Oxford Literary Festival 2018

 Saturday 17th March – Lucy Atkins & Mick Herron ‘Secrets and Spies’

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 10.20.54Mick Herron is the author of the Jackson Lamb series of spy novels. The first, Slow Horses, was hailed by the Daily Telegraph as one of the 20 greatest spy novels of all time. The most recent in the series is Spook Street, winner of the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2017.

Mick and I will be talking about the secrets and spies at the heart of  our novels, and about writing flawed and unlikeable characters. Interviewed by Hannah Beckerman.

Tickets here: ‘Secrets & Spies’

Saturday 24 March –  Ruby Wax ‘How to be Human’

I’ll bScreen Shot 2018-01-31 at 10.19.08e interviewing the great & wise Ruby Wax about her new book How to be Human, the Manual at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Wax has had a successful 25-year career as a comedian, television performer and writer. She also has a master’s degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy from the University of Oxford and was awarded an OBE for services to mental health.

More details & tickets here 

 

 

 

 

Costa Book of the Year awards ceremony

31 Jan 2018

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With fellow judge Freya North & author Jon McGregor

 

Last night was the Costa Book Awards ceremony at IMG_3931Quaglino’s in London, a truly uplifting celebration of some of the best writing in Britain today.  The overall Book of the Year prize went to Helen Dunmore’s incredible poetry collection, Inside the Wave, many of them written in the last weeks of her life. Dunmore, who died of cancer last year aged only 64, is the second writer to win the Book of the Year prize posthumously (Ted Hughes won for Birthday Letters in 1998).  Her family (pictured here) accepted the award last night and her son, Patrick Charnley, gave a short acceptance speech that had everybody wiping away tears.  ‘Poetry was in Mum’s soul’, he said.

‘For Mum to win the overall prize is staggering. We’re so thrilled. But there is a lot of sadness that she is not here. But she would have been really over the moon, particularly because it was her poetry … She’d have been so pleased to know that her win would bring new people to poetry’.

The category winners were:

Novel:  Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (pictured above with me & fellow judge Freya North); Biography: In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott Children’s:  The Explorer by Katherine Rundell; Debut: Gail Honeyman’s  Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

 

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Costa Book Awards 2017 Shortlist (Novel category)

22 Nov 2017

Judging the Costa Book Awards has been a demanding, exciting and at times slightly nerve-wracking experience. I’m delighted to have played a part in shortlisting these four wonderful novels (see dog-eared, coffee stained books in picture below) and finally to be able to press them into peoples’ hands.

Here’s a bit about each one, and why we chose them from 170 entries

 

Shortlist for the 2017 Costa Novel Award

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Judges

Lucy Atkins                   Author and Critic

Freya North                   Author

Wayne Winstone           Owner, Winstone’s Bookshops

 

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (4th Estate)

Why we loved it: ‘An extraordinary novel – poetic, haunting and hypnotic’.

A teenage girl has gone missing in the English hills, police set up roadblocks and a crowd of reporters descends on the village. But life must go on   – cows are milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured and these timeless rhythms become a force far greater than any isolated tragedy.

Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney (Quercus)

Why we loved it: ‘A novel of huge scope with a tremendous sense of period and place.’

Flora Mackie is twelve when she first crosses the Arctic Circle on her father’s whaling ship. Now she’s returning to the frozen seas as the head of her own expedition. In this remote frozen land she encounters Jakob de Beyn, raised in Manhattan, and part of a rival expedition. What follows is a powerful love story but also an exploration of science, geography, feminism and humanity.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Circus)

Why we loved it:  ‘A brave and important book that explores themes that feel both urgent and timeless.’

Isma worries about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister, and their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared to follow the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.  When Aneeka becomes involved with Eamonn the charming son of a powerful British Muslim politician the two families’ fates are devastatingly entwined. A forceful retelling of the ancient story of Antigone. 

Tin Man by Sarah Winman (Tinder Press)

Why we loved it:  ‘A tender and deeply moving exploration of love and grief written with deceptive simplicity.’

Two Oxford city boys, Ellis and Michael, are inseparable in adolescence but when they become men life takes them in different directions. Ellis works at the Cowley car plant, smoothing out dents; Michael heads to London. Then Ellis falls in love with Annie, and for a while, the old friends are brought back together again.

Sarah Winman grew up in Essex and now lives in London.  She attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and was an actor for 30 years in theatre, TV and film. She has written three novels including When God Was a Rabbit.

 

 

On Reading: Books that catch your imagination

15 Nov 2017

THE READING LISTSI was interviewed recently by The Reading Lists, a great book blog for anyone who’s curious about what other people like to read. Click this link for a snapshot of my reading habits  The Reading Lists Lucy Atkins

 

 

Judging the Costa Book Awards

8 Nov 2017

costa book awards logoSince May this year I have been reading novels for the Costa Book Awards. I’m judging the ‘Novel’ category so there are authors whose work I’ve read before, but also quite a few who are new to me – and some authors I’ve always meant to read and haven’t, until now. It has been an eye-opening experience. One thing that’s struck me is the large number of historical novels (and a few futuristic ones too, it has to be said). Is this always the case? It’s not something you tend to notice unless you have a stack of fifty books to read on your office floor. The better historical novels, I’ve noticed, are less about escaping into the past, and more about reframing the uncertainties and horrors of what’s happening in the world today. Let’s just say I’ve read more than one reworking of a Greek tragedy.

This week is the most exciting bit. I’m just finishing reading the other judges’ selections (my two fellow judges chose three books each). This Friday we’ll meet in London to discuss those, along with my own selections. It’s going to be a delight to finally meet the other judges and discuss these books – and to choose a final shortlist from them. I’ll report back soon.

Guildford Book Festival Readers’ Day

8 Sep 2017

Guildford Readers' DAy imageI’ll be appearing at Guildford Book Festival on Saturday 14th October, for ‘Readers’ Day’, alongside authors Rachel Joyce, Polly Clark, Fiona Barton, Veronica Henry and Penny Vincenzi, and chaired by novelist Fanny Blake.

Here’s the Festival’s description of what’s in store:

If you are an avid reader of fiction what better way to spend the day than in the company of some of Britain’s best-loved authors sharing their stories, their experiences and their inspirations, and all under one roof.

Hosted by Fanny Blake*, Books Editor of Woman & Home magazine, and a former publisher and author of more than a dozen fiction and non-fiction books, this interactive and enjoyable day for book lovers has been a popular feature of the Festival for many years. Early booking is essential for this event.

The event will take place in the Festival Marquee with lunch served in the cafe/bar area by WeFiFo chef. 

More information about this or the rest of the festival click here: Guildford Book Festival Readers’ Day

 

Thriller Queens in the Library

6 Sep 2017

 

 

 

Hillingdon Libraries event

Come to Hillingdon to talk to me, Sabine Durrant and Colette MacBeth about dark things.

27th September at 7.30pm

 

Cheltenham Literature Festival

6 Sep 2017

On 15th October, I’ll be at Cheltenham Literature Festival, interviewing author Sarah Moss, about her latest novel The Tidal Zone, and also crime author Minette Walters, who’s most recent book is The Last Hours. Tickets are on sale here:  Buy Tickets for Cheltenham Lit Fest

 

How to Write a Novel (Psychologies Magazine Column)

31 Aug 2017

 

 

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Click on the links below to read my first six Psychologies Magazine ‘How to Write a Novel’ columns. They are short and basic but maybe they’ll give you a few ideas:

Month 1: How to Write a Novel

Month 2: Don’t Lose the Plot 

Month 3 Make Time to Write 

Month 4 Looking for Trouble

Month 5: How to Cut 

Month 6: Tricks of the Trade

 

 

 

 

 

Wantage Literary Festival

31 Aug 2017

Come and talk to me about writing! Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 19.08.44

I’ll be at the Wantage Betjeman Literary Festival on 22 October, 2017 talking about the Night Visitor as well as how to write a thriller, how to get your book published. Come and ask me lots of questions about your writing and mine.  Buy a ticket here Wantage Tickets

 

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