Perhaps word has filtered through, perhaps not - we are changing slightly as an organisation in order to do more. As well as the Birmingham Book Festival we are now also the new literature development agency for the West Midlands, Writing West Midlands (WWM). Jonathan Davidson, previously Director of the Birmingham Book Festival (now Associate Director and Chief Executive of WWM) is focusing on WWM and Write On, the Festival's education strand. This means that I am now focused solely on the Festival, and, as of January 2010, am full time - a whole five days a week to work on the Festival - a luxury.
I have been spending a lot of that time on the train, in meetings and on the internet finding out what is happening in the world of books and publishing in 2010. Here are a few of the (many) things that excite me:
New books for 2010 that I am already thinking about:
- Lionel Shriver's new novel, So Much For That, is out in March.
- The Room Swept White is the latest from Sophie Hannah, also out in March.
- A second novel from Catherine O'Flynn to follow the brilliant What Was Lost comes our way in July.
- New Tindal Street titles including Maria Allen's Before The Earthquake, in February, Lesley Glaister's Chosen in May and Richard Francis' The Old Spring in July.
- Clare Morrall's fourth novel, The Man Who Disappeared, which we are launching on February 22nd, at the Electric Cinema, Birmingham, at 6.45pm. If you'd like to come, just email or call us (sara [at] birmingham book festival [dot] org, 0121 246 2792).
Add to this the heady combination of poet Jo Bell and novelist Jenn Ashworth, who are introducing a new show they like to call Too Much Information - a mix of short stories and poetry, wicked, wise and witty words about the bitter side of love, nightmare dates, friends and dead people, among other things.... knowing these two it promises to be dark, different and definitely funny. It will be part of our Spring Thing on Saturday May 29th, details of which will be appearing here in late February/early March.
Tomorrow I am off to London to meet with colleagues at the RSA, with whom the Festival has been happily working for several years now, to chat over ideas for 2010. It's then on to Serpent's Tail Publishers, who publish the excellent Bethan Roberts, Amanda Smyth and Aifric Campbell among others, to find out what they have to offer this year, and then along to Random House for an intensive two hour run through of their publishing calendar.
Come back here soon for reviews aplenty, including Raphael Selbourne's Costa First Novel Award winning novel Beauty, and Fiona Shaw's Tell It To The Bees.