Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Books Talk Back is part of our fifth anniversary celebrations. Founder Isabelle King describes what's in store.

Books Talk Back are literary events which support and showcase new writing. Founder, Isabelle King, talks about the process of setting up Books Talk Back and the forthcoming event at Norwich Arts Centre, March 7th, 6-7pm with Guest Author Eliza Robertson.

The idea for Books Talk Back was sparked when I became interested in creative writing but realised that, whilst I enjoyed the creativity, I didn’t have any idea about how one would go about pursuing writing as a career. I didn’t have a background in creative writing or the ability to fund myself on a creative writing course.
I thought it would be helpful for aspiring authors to hear from published writers first-hand about their experiences of literary agents, publishing and the writing process. It also struck me that another helpful aspect for writers in a similar position to me would be to gain constructive feedback on their writing. From this I developed the idea of a small pre-selected panel of aspiring authors reading an extract of their unpublished work to the published author and audience of guests, and then receive feedback from both.
Isabelle King
Initially, Books Talk Back was only going to be a one-off evening! I had never run an event before but I often find the best way to do things is to throw yourself in! I decided to host an event in my local pub in South Ealing where I lived at the time as I had both worked in and frequented the pub, so was familiar with the surroundings. The Rose and Crown provided a lovely, warm atmosphere for the event. Naomi Wood was the perfect guest author, having recently released her debut novel ‘The Godless Boys’ from which she shared insight and ideas and inspiration for aspiring authors. In addition to hosting, I read as one of the aspiring authors on the panel which I found genuinely very helpful and the experience helped me to pick out a time period for my novel based on some feedback I received.
It was lovely to gain positive feedback about the event from the participants and audience. In particular, people enjoyed the intimate, interactive aspect of the event and the fact that they could ask questions throughout.
Since my first event, Books Talk Back has gained support and sponsorship from The British Library where I have hosted two non-profit events. In total, I have run five non-profit Books Talk Back events in London and Norwich in which guest authors have included Tracy Chevalier, Hayley Long and Jamie Rhodes.
I really enjoy the pub events – I believe a pub atmosphere helps keep everything relaxed, informal and fun.
Eliza Roberston
The March 7th event at Norwich Arts Centre is set to be a fun one! I’m truly delighted that Eliza Roberston will be guest author. Eliza’s debut book ‘Wallflowers’ is a remarkable short story collection of beautiful, haunting, edgy tales. I’m very excited to hear what she has to say about her creative writing process. Philippa Found’s work will be critiqued on the evening. She recently studied on the  UEA MA creative writing course and her short story ‘Ice-Cream’ was long-listed for the Words And Women prose competition.
I’m particularly thrilled that this event will be part of Words And Women fifth anniversary celebration. Words And Women are a fantastic platform for female writers in the region; their supportive ethos, enthusiasm and passion for new writers has helped me, not only with hosting Books Talk Back events, but with my own writing which has been highly commended for their prose competition – a very exciting opportunity for me to showcase my work! Opportunities such as this remind me why I love Books Talk Back – the events keep me on my toes, keep me learning, keep me reading and of course, writing. Most of all, I have enjoyed meeting new writers and making friends along the way.
I look forward to meeting lots of new writers, readers and literary enthusiasts on March 7th!

Attending Books Talk Back is like sitting down with a bunch of close literary-loving friends you didn't even know you had.
Maria Hummer – guest and participant at various Books Talk Back events

Books Talk Back was a unique experience, public and intimate at the same time, warmly held together by Isabelle and a generous feedback forum for the writer. It was a valuable help to me in writing my novel
Bel Greenwood – Participant at Books Talk Back

Isabelle King is an actress, writer and producer. She’s the founder of Books Talk Back; literary events which support and showcase new writing talent. Isabelle's writing has been short-listed for the Ideas/Writers' Centre Norwich national fiction competition and she won an arts journalism competition to be the Embedded Writer at the Family Arts Conference 2015. Isabelle has written a children's book of short stories and frequently reads them at family events throughout Norfolk. 

Eliza Robertson was born in Vancouver and grew up on Vancouver Island. She attended the creative writing programs at the University of Victoria and the University of East Anglia, where she received the 2011 Man Booker Scholarship. Her first collection, Wallflowers, was shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award, the Danuta Gleed Short Story Prize, the East Anglia Book Award, and selected as a New York Times Editor's Choice. In 2015, she was named by Joseph Boyden as one of five emerging writers for the Writers' Trust Five x Five program. She lives in England.

Philippa Found studied History of Art at the University of Warwick and graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing (Prose) from the University of East Anglia in 2015. Previously she worked as a curator and director of a London art gallery where she curated the likes of Tracey Emin and Cecily Brown, and wrote a non-fiction collection, which was nominated for the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association Prize, 2011. She is currently completing her first collection of short stories. Philippa’s short stories have been long-listed in the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2015/16, the Words & Women Prose Competition 2015, and have been published by Galley Beggar Press,, and shortly will be published by the London Journal of Fiction.

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