I just got back from Manchester Literature Festival, where I was talking about — and giving a short reading from — my Science Museum novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South. Chairing the event was novelist Gregory Norminton, who recently edited the Beacons collection of climate change-themed short stories. Our venue was a beautiful old-fashioned room in Manchester Museum, in which two ranks of tall glass vitrines were filled with animal skeletons and other curiosities, while above our heads hung not the sword of Damocles, but an enormous whale skeleton.
There was a good-sized audience, too, which included members of Manchester Museum’s Book Club who had chosen Shackleton’s Man Goes South as their title for September. Feedback from these readers was incredibly positive but also useful, as the Science Museum and I have been discussing preparing a page of information about the novel for book groups. It was fascinating hearing which aspects of the novel had provoked discussion. These included the fact that central characters Emily and daughter Jenny are women, for example, but also questions about what a particular shift of focus might mean, partway through the story, or about Emily and Jenny’s lives beyond the confines of the novel. I’m wondering if it might be useful to give some prompts for discussion around these and other questions, and also how to do this without giving too much away.
One thing that I’ve also realised would be incredibly useful for future Shackleton’s Man Goes South events, is a small flyer giving the URL where people can download the novel free and DRM-free on the Science Museum website.
The link is:
At right are a selection of tweets about yesterday’s gig. Manchester Literature Festival very actively used social media to promote the event, and — as you can see — to give some live commentary during it. I was also very interested to see how people in the audience continued the conversation on Twitter, and that a couple of people tweeted that they are reviewing the book and/or the event.