The Humber Mouth
Hull Literature
Festival 2003

{ Hull Literature Festival 2003 6th - 16th November 2003
 the humber mouth }

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Festival Critic

{ Festival Critic: Steven Hall }

Renegade Soundwave

Writers Day

Ibsen vs. Strindberg

Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army

An Audience with Joan Bakewell

Woza Albert!


Pooh Bear Reading Workshop

Readers Day

Theatre Test Tube

Writers Day:
Russell T Davies, Jill Dawson, James Nash, Lee Karen Stow.

Russell T Davies

Russell T Davies is a giant in every sense of the word. Physically he stands at around six foot five, with his personality and infectious enthusiasm being even larger. And of course professionally he is taller still; he�s simply one of the best, bravest and most imaginative scriptwriters to have made television in Britain in the last ten years. Yes, I admit it, I�m a fan.

But how could I not be? With American drama going from strength to strength with the likes of Six Feet Under and the West Wing, it�s the imaginative audacity of Davies in programmes like Queer As Folk and The Second Coming which has provided our only real shots back across the pond.

Davies in discussion didn�t disappoint - unselfconscious, honest and often very funny, he talked about his huge appetite for television, his love of the mainstream and why Coronation Street is better than Eastenders. He also spoke about the press backlash over Queer As Folk and the anger of the gay community after Bob and Rose (a story in which a gay man falls in love with a woman).

Davies also explained some of the realities of writing for television. For example, it seems some long running serial and soaps actually commission two separate writers to produce two separate scripts for each episode, and then simply pick the best one. This led to an anecdote about two writers who had been commissioned to produce scripts for the same episode of Casualty - apparently the more experienced scriptwriter had a phone conversation with the less experienced, which left the less experienced believing it was a brilliant idea to have an escaped live pig loose in the ward as part of his script. (Memo to self � don�t ask Davis or his friends for help with screenplay. Memo ends.)

The audience at the EICH Gallery loved Davies and he was equally generous in return, filling his script writing workshop with Doctor Who fans (which we will get to later) and taking them all out for a drink and chat once the event was over.

Jill Dawson

I don�t suppose it�s often that an author with Jill Dawson�s credentials (she has been short listed for both the Whitbread award and the Orange Prize) finds herself in anyone�s shadow, still Dawson took being part of the same event as Davies in her stride.

Before lunch, she lead an excellent seminar on writing and the publishing industry, giving participants lots of practical advice on finding agents, placing manuscripts and how to gain than most elusive thing for an aspiring writer � credibility. Oh, and how to gain that other most elusive thing too � money.

After lunch, she read a disturbing extract from her novel Wild Boy, which is based on the true story of a feral child found living in the wild in 19th century France. She spoke about her experiences with Asperger�s Syndrome, about the drive to write and also about the importance of reading as an integral part of any writer�s development.

James Nash & Lee Karen Stow

Both poet James Nash and journalist Lee Karen Stow took part in the day�s opening panel discussion and lead pre-lunch workshops in their areas of expertise.

Stow, although without the public speaking experience of the other writers, did a great job of representing her field, offering hugely interesting insights into the life of a freelance journalist (she had just returned from a major Bigfoot conference in the States).

Nash led the morning�s panel debate and afternoon discussions with Davies and Dawson, so I didn�t hear as much about him or his work as I would have liked. Still, he did a great job as ringmaster/question-asker � a tough job that�s easily overlooked.

Doctor Who

And lastly, Doctor Who. I�m thinking there will be a few people clicking open this review with the question � �Russell T Davies is writing the new series of Doctor Who isn�t he? Did he give away any juicy details? Any scoops? Any exclusives? Did he let something slip?�

Well, if you were there on Saturday, you already know whether he did or not. If you weren�t, I�ll have to smile a little cruelly, remind of the strict media embargo on the subject, and suggest you get hold of a copy of the festival brochure before you miss any more events.

After all, if you want your boomerang to come back - first you�ve got to throw it.

Nov 8
Writers Day
EICH Gallery

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