Book festival promises reading delight

Join South African authors paying tribute to the art of writing and celebrating Nat- ional Library Week from Monday March 14 when Fish Hoek, Masiphumelele, Simon’s Town, Kommetjie and Ocean View libraries pull out the stops with their second Blown Away by Books Festival.

There will be storytelling, crime and wine, discussions with authors, some performances, tips on how to get from manuscript to published book and more.

“This year’s festival has a line-up that will thrill, titillate, amaze, amuse, shock and inspire one to read. More than 30 authors will be appearing at different events, many of whom are award winners,” said Fish Hoek library principal librarian Janusz Skarzynski.

One of the authors is Mike Nicol, who “lives behind a porcupine fence in Glencairn Heights”.

He describes himself as having led “a scary life as a writer” for three decades and also teaches creative writing online. Since 2009 he has “become obsessed with writing crime fiction”, with The Revenge Trilogy, Of Cops & Robbers, Power Play and, in September, Agents of the State, being his contribution to the genre.

Mike will be at the Fish Hoek civic centre minor hall (next to the library) on Saturday March 19, at 9pm, in conversation with writers and editors Máire Fisher and Helen Moffett, and independent publisher Colleen Higgs, exploring the secret world of publishing, how to get from manuscript to book.

Asked why he is taking part in Blown Away By Books, Mike says there are two answers.

“Janusz Skarzynski has vowed not to let me back into the library if I don’t participate.

“Then again, I think this is a really worthwhile initiative as it introduces the writers of the southern peninsula – and beyond – to Fish Hoek readers, and that has to be a good thing.

“There are some amazing books being written south of the Silvermine mountains.”

And those of us who have enjoyed Mike’s books can happily give some credit to Fish Hoek library. “Fish Hoek Library was my first library. Some years ago

“I even found a book that had been a great favourite of mine way back when -something to do with King Arthur – in the children’s section that had a date stamp from 1963. I like to believe that was the year I first read the book.

“Unfortunately, it has since been taken off the shelves as it was getting pretty tatty.

“Since we moved to Glencairn 16 years ago, Fish Hoek library has once again become my main resource centre.

“So it provided many of the books as I read myself into crime fiction (there are also good technical books on guns and assorted weaponry which have come in very useful). It provided the secondary sources for the biography I did on Nelson Mandela, and it has helped as I developed two writing courses.

“Apart from that, most of the books I read these days come from Fish Hoek library.

“And now the library is playing its second big role in my life. We started taking granddaughter Kate there at an age when what she really wanted to do was run up and down the aisles.

Both the librarians and their borrowers were very tolerant. And their tolerance paid off because she soon enough discovered the wondrous worlds that await in books.

“Watching her progress through these stories has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

And rewarding experiences are what Blown Away by Books hopes to offer.

It could be putting yourself in your own book as a therapeutic tool with psychologist Jonathan Morgan and “hero books” at the Ocean View library (Saturday March 19 at 9am) or leaning back sipping suitable fermented grape juice in the popular Crime and Wine evening at Fish Hoek library (Wednesday March 16 at 7pm) with Darrell Bristow-Bovey who will be interrogating novelist, copywriter and columnist Paige Nick and scriptwriter Michéle Rowe.

Or meeting Booker prize nominee (and Man Asian Prize winner) Tan Twan Eng, author of The Gift of Rain and The Garden of Evening Mists after he is interviewed by author and journalist Mark Gevisser at the Fish Hoek library (Friday March 18 at 7pm).

Or Sicelo Kula talking about his book Taking Chances at Masiphumelele library (Saturday March 19 at 11am).

There’s something for all tastes and all ages.

For a full line-up and details about National Library Week visit www.blownawaybybooks.co.za or email fishhoek.library@capetown.

gov.za for more information.