Monday, 1 June 2015

Hay Festival - author event - Tiffany Murray and David Mitchell

We're just back from a couple of days away in Wales, including a brief visit to Hay Festival  where I caught the late night event Halloween Comes Early with authors Tiffany Murray and David Mitchell, and chaired by Rosie Goldsmith. As you probably expected with that title, the event was all about ghost stories -

Published last year, Tiffany Murray's Sugar Hall is the spine-tingling tale of a young boy, Dieter, newly moved to the old family home on the English/Welsh border, who encounters the ghost of another young boy - once a slave in the house. Although terrified, Dieter is drawn back and makes friends with him - but as the ghostly boy grows in substance it's obvious that his intentions are evil. I don't normally get on well with ghost stories but this had me hooked - and terrified of what would happen as the story unfolded.

David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, will have his own ghostly book, Slade House, out in October. Down narrow, dark Slade Alley is a small black door that leads into a garden that doesn't quite make sense - Tardis-like it seems too large inside for the space it occupies. Every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a guest enters, but why have they been chosen and by whom....This was the first 'outing' for Slade House so we audience members were very privileged to hear the author read from the opening chapter.

Both authors have themselves had, if not visits from ghosts, than certainly spooky things happen around them - doors which were locked at night were always found open in the morning, and a presence sitting at the end of the bed. The original inspiration for Sugar Hall itself came from a story of a local haunted house which Tiffany Murray was told as a child.
It's always interesting to hear authors themselves read from their books - often it's only a small snippet but this time both authors read much longer sections. The Starlight Stage was an ideal setting for such an event with the twinkling lights in the ceiling dimmed to create the right eerie atmosphere as we heard the opening chapters of these two books, the stories of two small boys, one encountering a ghost, one discovering a beautiful but strange garden.

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