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Writers gather for a few words

Waterstones books launch, from left David Laws, Mara G Fox, Emily B Scialom, Tracey Ann Cracknell and Anthony Le Moignan. Picture: Keith Heppell
Waterstones books launch, from left David Laws, Mara G Fox, Emily B Scialom, Tracey Ann Cracknell and Anthony Le Moignan. Picture: Keith Heppell

Waterstones hosts books evening for seven local authors

Waterstones held the first of a regular series of authorial gatherings this month, which saw local writers present their work to the public.

“Welcome to our inaugural event,” said Waterstones’ events co-ordinator Dr Amy Crawford. “We really wanted to highlight local authors and give you a chance to meet them. We have seven authors today.”

The authors then had eight-minute slots to talk about their work and read excerpts.

First up was The Long Goodbye by Anthony Le Moignan, who wrote the novel about love in an Alzheimer’s setting when he saw a newspaper article about early-onset dementia in a ski instructor in her 30s.

Next was Emily Scialom, daughter of a certain Mike of this parish - I’m very proud of her literary skills - whose Religion of Self Enlightenment, or ROSE, has been described as “a cult classic” and is based on the story of an everyman who has life imposed on him despite his best efforts to avoid it.

Former police officer Chris Bailey-Green was next: his book, Apnea, began six years ago when he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. “Apnea is the inability to breathe which is also what happens when you fall in love, so this is a love story,” he said.

Mandy Morton worked for the BBC for 26 years. “After I left I had very little to do so I sat down and decided to create a parallel world entirely populated by cats,” she said,

The cats’ characters are based on her time living in Mill Road in the 1970s. “The whole of the street, from top to bottom, was full of characters.” The book she’s just had published, Magical Mystery Paws, is the sixth in her “No. 2 Feline Detective Agency” series.

Mandy was followed by David Laws, a journalist on the Daily Express for 50 years. His book, Munich: The Man Who Said No!, concerns a Cambridge researcher who discovers her grandfather had staged a protest at the Munich Conference which saw then-British prime minister Neville Chamberlain surrender to Hitler’s whims. The grandfather then disappears. What happened to him turns into quite a tale...

Former barrister Mara G Fox was next at the podium. The Other Side of Como is also to set around the time of the Second World War, though it concerns the Italians rather than the Germans. It’s a tale closer to home, in that Mara only found out she had three Italian half-brothers after her mother died.

Thus began an odyssey which included a three-month stay by Lake Como and the resulting “faction” is a love story about an English woman who falls in love with and marries an idealistic Italian baker. All goes well until Mussolini arrives: tensions rise, life is harder, people are polarised – your all-time classic divide-and-rule.

“The story is told mainly from women’s point of view,” says Mara. “the experience of women has been regarded as – may I say – collateral damage. The Other Side of Como is about fascism and war.”

The delightful Tracey Cracknell was on hand to close proceedings.Tracey read some of her very funny, slightly Victoria Wood-esque, poems. Or maybe that should be Sue Townsend-esque? Either way, Tracey’s collection, A Little Book of Poetry, is hilarious, insightful, poignant and wise.

“I wouldn’t say they’re childish, but they do rhyme,” said Tracey. And she painted the pictures too.

The diversity of the work launched at this event was something of a revelation and made for a really fun and educational evening. Check out the next one!

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