Wednesday 3 November 2010

OUP Celebration of Dark Fiction Halloween Event - 27th October 2010

I was thrilled to be invited to the OUP Celebration of dark fiction and have been looking forward to this event ever since I first found out about it.  I was looking forward to the readings by Joss Stirling, William Hussey and Rhiannon Lassiter - I hadn't read anything by these authors but had heard great things about all of them.  Thanks to Jennie at OUP who sent me a copy of Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide which I actually started reading on the train to London for the event!

One of my favorite things about blogging has been getting the opportunity to meet not only some fabulous authors but also some amazing bloggers.  It's so nice to chat to others who are as passionate about books as I am and it's great fun to meet up with them before / after events to catch up on all the latest news.  Sammee (I Want To Read That) and I decided to make a day of the event so although it didn't start until 7pm we met up at Waterloo train station at lunch time.  We'd arranged to meet Becky (The Bookette) at about 3pm so that left us with plenty of time to have a look around Piccadilly Waterstones, if you've read any of my other event reports you'll probably have guessed by now how much I love that store!  I think we've both added quite a few books to our wish list but I was impressed with our willpower and the fact that neither of us actually brought anything.

We had arranged to meet Becky outside Holborn tube station and the 3 of us ended up spending a couple of hours sitting in Starbucks chatting away about books.  I think I could happily chat with the others forever and the time literally flew by before Becky had to leave to go to her writing class.  Sammee & I headed over to Tottenham Court Road tube station where we were meeting up with Caroline (Portrait of a Woman) for dinner before the event (Becky was meeting us at the event after her class finished).  Sammee & I had time for a quick stop in the Holborn Waterstones before we left & I'm still not quite sure I believe this but we both managed to resist buying for a second time!  I did to a little shopping on Oxford Street though when we were scouting out the event location while we waited for Caroline to arrive (nothing book related but I did buy a very cool pair of fingerless gloves & a fab backpack!).

Caroline had to fight the commuter traffic to get to us but luckily we had time for a quick dinner in McDonald's before heading to The House of St Barnabas where we met up with Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) Lyndsey (Heaven, Hell and Purgatory) outside before going in.  It was so nice to finally meet Lyndsey, we've been chatting on Twitter for ages so it already felt like I knew her but it was lovely to meet face to face.

We were let into the building by a doorman who had to tick us all off on his list (luckily we were all on there!) and then a really friendly member of staff from OUP (I'm so sorry I didn't catch her name!) showed us to the cloak room where we could leave our coats and bags and we made our way to the room where the event was being held.  I have to say what a beautiful building it was, I'd love to go back there and explore a bit with my camera.  A lot of people had already arrived but we were greeted with drinks and found a nice spot to sit ready for the readings.

Lauren, me, Sammee, Caroline & Lyndsey

The lovely Joss Stirling, who we found out is actually Julia Golding (I'm going to have to check out some of her other books!) came and sat with us for a while.  She was so friendly and genuinely seemed interested in finding out about our blogs and how we find the time to run them.  Unfortunately it was quite loud in there so I did struggle to hear some of the things she was saying but we were all very excited when she happily signed our copies of Finding Sky for us.  We also got to meet author Victoria Connelly (author of A Weekend with Mr Darcy which is another book that has been added to my wish list!) who came and sat with us and Joss. 

Victoria Connelly & Joss Stirling

At about 8pm it was time for the author readings and first up was William Hussey who was reading from the beginning of the second book in his trilogy Witchfinder: Gallows at Twilight which will be released in January 2011.  I'm currently reading the first book Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide and I can definitely attest that it's perfect Halloween reading material!  William attended the event with his demon familiar (a giant spider) who spent the evening sitting on his shoulder.  He told us a little about the main character in the series Jake who is a proud geek with dark hair who thinks he is funny (just like William - and those are his words not mine!).  Jake is obsessed with horror stories which is probably a good thing as it comes in useful when he finds out that demons, witches and monsters are real and that he'll have to fight them.

William Hussey reading from Witchfinder: Gallows at Twilight

After listening to the reading I'm definitely very excited about getting my hands on Gallows at Twilight which includes trolls, skin walkers, time travel, civil war zombies and is at least partly set in a monster hotel! Sounds like a fun read doesn't it?  The reading was fab but not for the faint hearted or squeamish, all I'm going to say about that is read the book and wait until you get to the part about the witches' stew and something that looks like sausages!  William also mentioned an infamous line about a shopping bag that he was only just allowed to include in the final version of the story and I'm just about dying of curiosity to find out why.  I was interested to discover that William has previously published 2 adult horror books Through a Glass, Darkly and The Absence and I think I'm going to have to get my hands on copies of both of these.

Rhiannon Lassiter reading from Ghost of a Chance

The next author reading was by Rhiannon Lassiter who was reading from her newest book Ghost of a Chance that will be available in January 2011.  Rhiannon is the daughter of famous author Mary Hoffman (who also attended the event but I didn't get to speak to) and had her first book published before her 19th birthday.  She has written 13 books for children and young adults so I'm going to have to make sure I get hold of some of those to read.  Ghost of a Chance is set in a large (and creepy) stately home owned by a family who can't afford the upkeep.  The family have opened the house to tourists to raise money and are thinking of starting offering ghost walks.  Eva lives in the house with her Grandfather but there are apparently lots of unpleasant family members who visit regularly. 

Rhiannon read from chapter 4 which is titled Invisible Girl and we got to follow Eva down into the cold, dark cellar where she finds an array of torture devices that have been collected by the Chance family through the generations.  The story was incredibly creepy and I have a feeling it will be one I'll be reading while peeping out from behind a cushion but I'm definitely looking forward to it!

Joss Stirling reading from Finding Sky

Last but by no means least was the reading by Joss Stirling from her book Finding Sky.  Joss is well known as Julia Golding but she wanted to indulge in her English love for the Gothic with Finding Sky and is using a different name as this book is aimed at an older audience.  Before the reading Joss talked about her road trip across America and how she was inspired by the Rocky Mountains, she did admit to hating Las Vegas though.  I've not yet read Finding Sky but it is high on my to read pile and I'm very much looking forward to getting stuck into it.  Her main characters all have the gift of ESP (something I love to read about) but they have to pay a price for their gifts.  Each character has a soul mate who was born at the same time as they were but may be anywhere in the world and could be impossible to find.

The reading was a snippet from Sky's second date with Zed which was suitably set on Halloween and included a misunderstanding between them and some trick or treaters which had the audience laughing out loud.  Joss talked about the theme of the book being how gifts can backfire and it shows how people can use or abuse the powers they have been given.  I'm definitely planning on reading this book soon so keep an eye out for my review

William Hussey

I didn't have much time to mingle after the event as Sammee & I were both worried about the possibility of missing our trains home but I did get to have a quick chat with William Hussey and get my copy of Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide signed.  I think I may have embarrassed myself just a little bit when I confessed how squeamish I am but told William that I'm a big girl now & I can take it (please someone remember to chaperone me at future author events and stop me opening my big mouth LOL).  I also got to talk to lovely blogger and aspiring author Natalie (The Writer Side of Life) and I said a brief hello to Liz (My Favorite Books) but unfortunately didn't have time to chat with her properly - hopefully next time Liz!

Here is a slide show with a few more pictures from the event, I'm sorry I didn't manage to get better pictures of the authors during the readings but I didn't have a great view from where we were sitting.

I'd like to say a massive thank you to all of the staff at OUP who worked hard to make this such a great event.  I'm sure I can speak for all of us when I say what an amazing time we had and I really enjoyed listening to all of the author readings.  Thank you also for the lovely goodie bags, I've been enjoying the sample chapters and was thrilled to be able to get my copy of Finding Sky signed by Joss!  Jennie it was lovely to meet you, even if it was only for a brief hello as we left to catch our trains.

Who was there:
Oxford University Press - website
Joss Stirling - website - Joss' Event Report
William Hussey - website
Rhiannon Lassiter - website
Victoria Connelly - website - Victoria's Event Report
Becky - The Bookette
Liz, Sarah & Mark - My Favorite Books - Liz's Event Report

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