Stonewall launches its first Young Writers competition

 Young Writers Top BannerStonewall, the LGBT equality charity, has launched its first Young Writers’ competition. Budding authors between the ages of 14 and 17are invited to submit short stories and poems that support the theme of LGBT equality: Changing Hearts and Minds.

Competition info

The closing date is 22nd May-  the winners will  be announced on 15th June.

Prizes for each category include a £150 book token, while two runners up from each category will receive £50 book tokens. Entries will be judged by author S J Watson, poet Dean Atta and Stonewall’s c.e.o. Ruth Hunt.

‘Love, Nina’ to be on TV

Love, Nina: despatches from family lifeNina Stibbe’s prize-winning book ‘Love, Nina’ is being turned into a five part drama of thirty minute episodes to be shown on BBC One. It won the non-fiction Book of the Year award at the Specsavers National Book Awards 2014.

Nick Hornby will adapt it, his first drama for TV. He said: “Love, Nina has already attained the status of a modern classic, and I am so happy that I’ve been given the opportunity to adapt it. We want to make a series that is as charming, funny and delightful as Nina Stibbe’s glorious book.”

Love, Nina: despatches from family life by Nina Stibbe – In the 1980s Nina Stibbe wrote letters home to her sister in Leicester describing her trials and triumphs as a nanny to a London family. There’s a cat nobody likes, a visiting dog called Ted Hughes (Ted for short) and suppertime visits from a local playwright. Not to mention the two boys, their favourite football teams, and rude words, a very broad-minded mother and assorted nice chairs. From the mystery of the unpaid milk bill and the avoidance of nuclear war to mealtime discussions on pie filler, the greats of English literature, swearing in German and sexually transmitted diseases, ‘Love, Nina’ is a wonderful celebration of bad food, good company and the relative merits of Thomas Hardy and Enid Blyton.


Celia Imrie is on Radio 2 ‘s Drivetime Book Club on 9th March

Not quite nice

Not Quite Nice by actress Celia Imrie is Simon Mayo’s next Radio 2 Drivetime Book Club book and will be featured on the 9th March.

Celia Imrie’s book is a charming, warm and light-hearted romp which centres around Theresa. She is desperate for a change in her life – so when she is “let go” from her job, she decides to go to the French Riveria for a break. Whilst there, she impulsively buys a little apartment, and the direction of her life changes.

In the town of Bellevue-Sur-Mer she becomes friends with a close-knit group of ex-pats who all have their troubles – and as their dirty laundry is aired in public, Theresa realises that it’s not all sunshine and cocktails in Nice. Download a sample

Celia Imrie is an Olivier Award-winning actress who is a star of the stage and screen. Not Quite Nice is her debut novel. She says ..

When I write, I like to……make sure I am in France, where I can smell the scent of the sea, and taste the scrumptiousness of the cuisine.

One thing that people don’t know about me is……I am a Nicoise Football supporter.

The book that inspired me to write is……not really a book, it was the magical days and nights of living on The French Riviera.

My speciality dish in the kitchen is……Tomato Tarte Tatin

If I could play anyone on screen, it would be……an unexpected part that hasn’t been written yet, but will surprise everyone.

The thing I love most about words is……when you say them, they sound exactly like their meaning.

Rowan Atkinson will be French detective Maigret

The madman of Bergerac

Two films featuring the French detective Jules Maigret, created by Georges Simenon, have been commissioned by ITV and  go into production this September. Rowan Atkinson will play Maigret. Penguin Classics has so far published 16 of the Maigret novels, with the remaining 59 due at a rate of one per month.

The films will be “Maigret Sets a Trap” and “Maigret’s Dead Man.”

Simenon’s son John, one of the executive producers, said: “Maigret has been part of our family for almost nine decades, and we are bringing together one of the best-known characters in world literature with one of the greatest international stars. I have no doubt my father, like me, would have approved of Rowan’s casting and been very excited to see him inhabit his most renowned creation.”


The Farm by Tom Robb Smith – top of the thriller charts

The farmTom Rob Smith has just topped the thriller charts with his latest book The Farm

What’s The Farm about?

Until the moment he received a frantic call from his father, Daniel believed his parents were headed into a peaceful, well-deserved retirement. They had sold their home and business in London, and said “farewell to England” with a cheerful party where all their friends had gathered to wish them well on their great adventure: setting off to begin life anew on a remote, bucolic farm in rural Sweden. But with that phone call, everything changed.

Your mother’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things–terrible, terrible things. She’s had a psychotic breakdown, and has been committed to a mental hospital.

Daniel prepares to rush to Sweden, on the first available flight the next day. Before he can board the plane, his father contacts him again with even more frightening news: his mother has been released from the hospital, and he doesn’t know where she is.

Then, he hears from his mother: I’m sure your father has spoken to you. Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad. I don’t need a doctor. I need the police. I’m about to board a flight to London. Meet me at Heathrow.

Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother’s unwilling  judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a horrible crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father

The tale brilliantly choreographs the collision of the present with the familial past. The author takes a new direction but his skills are as finely honed as ever. The book is both a page turner and a searing examination of the lives of our protagonist, his lover and his family.

Born in 1979 to a Swedish mother and an English father, Tom Rob Smith’s bestselling novels in the Child 44 trilogy were international publishing sensations. Among its many honours, Child 44 won the International Thriller Writer Award for Best First Novel, the Galaxy Book Award for Best New Writer, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the inaugural Desmond Elliot Prize.

Child 44 has been made into a film starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman.

20 books that rocked the English-language universe

Captain Corelli's mandolinA panel of literary experts has compiled a list of what they think are the top novels released over the last 20 years. It’s being done to  mark the 20th anniversary of the Independent Bath Literature Festival.

The books had to have been deemed to have ‘transformed the literary landscape’ to make the list. Every novel shortlisted for a prize in the past 20 years was included, as well as some the panel believed had been overlooked. Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, recently adapted for TV by BBC Two, was picked out as the overall winner.

Commentator John Walsh, who sat on the panel, said: ‘We think the final top 20 represents the books that most conspicuously rocked the English-language universe in the last 20 years.’

Here they are in date order:

  1. 1995 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Louis de Bernieres)
  2. 1996 Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood)
  3. 1997 American Pastoral (Philip Roth)
  4. 1998 England, England (Julian Barnes) (reordering this)
  5. 1999 Disgrace (JM Coetzee)
  6. 2000 White Teeth (Zadie Smith)
  7. 2001 Atonement (Ian McEwan)
  8. 2002 Any Human Heart (William Boyd)
  9. 2003 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon)
  10. 2004 Small Island (Andrea Levy)
  11. 2005 We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver)
  12. 2006 The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
  13. 2007 Half of a Yellow Sun (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
  14. 2008 The Outcast (Sadie Jones)
  15. 2009 The Little Stranger (Sarah Waters)
  16. 2010 Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel)
  17. 2011 A Visit From the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan)
  18. 2012 State of Wonder (Ann Patchett)
  19. 2013 Life After Life (Kate Atkinson)
  20. 2014 The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt)

Tony Harrison wins the David Cohen Prize for literature

Under the clock: new poemsLeeds born poet and playwright Tony Harrison, 77, has been awarded the £40,000 David Cohen Prize for literature. Presented every other year, previous winners include Hilary Mantel in 2013, Julian Barnes in 2011 and Seamus Heaney in 2009.

Harrison’s poetry, plays, and television works are often inspired by classical literature (he studied Classics) but address current concerns. One of his best known works is the poem V, written during the Miner’s Strike, which described a visit to the Harrison family grave above Leeds United’s stadium. It was made into a TV film and resulted in a debate in Parliament over the amount of swearing it contained!

He said: “I wrote my first poems 70 years ago, and I spent most of my lifetime producing poetry for page, stage and screen and this unexpected recognition is an enormous encouragement from the generous David Cohen Prize and helps me to confirm my commitment to what I’ve aways believed to be a united body of work, wherever the words were printed or performed.  In this lifetime of writing, I’ve tried to balance the isolation necessary for serious composition with the communal creation of producing poetry of actors… This generous award is accepted with enormous gratitude as I approach, with renewed energy, my eighth and I hope most creative decade, with the poems, plays and films flowing till the end.”

He has also previously won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Prize for Poetry and the European Prize for Literature.The winner of the David Cohen prize is also able to bestow the £12,500 Clarissa Luard Award, funded by Arts Council England, on to a young writer or body to encourage them in their work. Harrison selected The Wordsworth Trust.