The Belfast Book Festival: When Irish Spies are Writing

I ask you, who amongst us has not at some point wanted a few tips as to how to commit the perfect murder? Aha! Made you smile! However we’ll just ignore that little glance you just made, the one where your eyes lifted from your iPad and leveled on that burping bag of fart across the room. He’s your problem, not mine and if you ask me any more questions I’m lawyering up. Besides, I’m no expert on murder, although I do expect to be chatting with a few of them this Saturday.

The Belfast Book Festival launches on June 7th and runs through the 17th across what is (trivia alert!) the safest large city in the UK. For the reading enthusiast, such Festivals are glorious opportunities for meeting stars of the written word and discovering new writers who match one’s tastes.

For my part, along with my tag team partner Bianca Da Silva (herself a formidably talented new author) we will be attending four sessions. The first is on Election Night, June 8th. The Art of the Short Story at the Crescent Arts Centre features two favourites: June Caldwell who has just released Room Little Darker, reviewed here recently, and Nuala O’Connor. I have not met or read the third panelist, Oisin O’Fagan, but part of the joy of it all. By the way, I will be carrying a dart gun, so anyone in the audience who even thinks of asking, ‘When are you writing a novel?’ had best be wearing armor. You have been warned.

The second session I have bookmarked – ho ho! Puns! – shares its name with one of the finest collections I have read in recent years, Trouble Is Our Business. This is the, er, murder panel. In particular I look forward to finally meeting Louise Phillips after having loved her Kate Pearson crime novels for years now, twice interviewing her, and been thoroughly engaged by her wit and insight. Spend your Saturday afternoon at the Crescent Arts with some killer fiction writers.

Tuesday evening, June 13th is much Bianca’s idea. As the mother of a one year old daughter herself, she will be attending the talk by Sarah Turner regarding her book The Unmumsy Mum Diary which is all about Ms Turner’s hilarious experiences as a mum, wife and author. Honestly, I can’t possibly imagine what Bianca and Sarah could possibly have in common. Besides, you know, everything.

As for me, I am like a child the week before Christmas because at 8PM on June 15th at the Black Box I know I will be massively entertained by the incredible comedian Sara Pascoe. She will be discussing her debut book Animal. The major reason I am such a mark for Sara Pascoe is that besides being funny, she is also wickedly smart. You get glimpses of this during her appearances on various quiz shows, but such short clips do not reveal the full range of a lively and pointed intellect.

For further information about all the sessions, and to book tickets, pleas take a look at the Belfast Book Festival website. And if you happen to see a tall, grey-haired Canadian ambling about, you may indeed buy me a pint. I’m a writer. We talk for pints. Aloha!

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