Books By The Beach co-directors Heather French and Peter Guttridge have announced the final names for this year’s Scarborough Book Festival, just a few days in advance of tickets going on sale. The opening event in the morning of Thursday 16 April will be very much a family affair. Barry Norman, much loved film critic, cricket fan and comic novelist, will be appearing with his daughter, broadcaster and, now, novelist, Samantha Norman. Samantha has completed an unfinished stand alone historical novel, Winter Siege, left unfinished on the sad death of her mother, award-winning historical crime writer Ariana Franklin (author of the Mistress of the Art of Death series), in 2013.
Barry wrote a moving account of his life with his wife Ariana – real name Diana - called See You In The Morning. In the opening event father and daughter discuss the final novel and share memories of Diana. ‘Expect some poignant moments,’ Heather French says, ‘but also some much lighter ones. From what I’ve read, this is a family that loved to laugh.’
As happened last year, there is a special bonus event a few days after the official end of the festival – and what a bonus. On 29 April Alexander McCall Smith will be the speaker at a lunch at the Palm Court. ‘Lunch with the author of the The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street, may well be the best lunch you’ll ever have,’ says Peter Guttridge. ‘He’ll be celebrating the publication of the latest addition to the Isabel Dalhousie series, The Novel Habits of Happiness. He will also be discussing another new title, Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party and catching up with the latest from Mma Ramotswe in Botswana with The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café. An event not to be missed!’
There are also a couple of quirkier special events. Scarborough Prison will be the spooky venue for a discussion of all things Jack The Ripper on the evening of Thursday 16 April. As part of it, actor John Benfield (Prime Suspect and the forthcoming A.D.) will be reading from contemporary reports and little known accounts.
‘This will be a chilling event in every sense – audiences need to wrap up warm!’ Peter Guttridge warns.
Co-director Peter Guttridge has also written The Dead House, a dark mystery story that has both a twist in the tail and one in the telling. For audience members will experience the story narrated on headsets as they snake their way through the Dean Road and the adjacent Manor Road cemeteries, stopping at points where incidents in the narrative take place.
‘I’m looking forward to working with the Friends of the cemeteries to make this happen,’ Peter says. ‘And I’m thrilled the Arts Council are supporting the project. I’m even more thrilled that Greta Scacchi, a friend of the festival who was so terrific narrating ghost stories in Scarborough prison last year, has agreed to “voice” the narration the audience will be hearing.’
Brochures and tickets are available at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
‘We’re excited by our programme,’ Heather French says. ‘We hope audiences will be too! And it’s all washed down with a glass of BestSeller beer, kindly supplied by our friends from Wold Top Brewery. Books and Beer, the perfect combination! Cheers!’