Authors hoping to inspire their audiences

Joanna Trollope hopes to remind people that “books are where all the great ideas are” while Will Self has said he will “strip naked and strike a few attitudes” if the audience demands it as the third Plymouth International Book Festival gets underway this week.

A glorious blend of global bestsellers and up and coming talent – also including former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, ex-BBC correspondent Kate Adie, Man Booker Prize judge Sarah Churchwell, Costa Prize winner Nathan Filer and crime  writer Sarah Hillary – will be heading to the South West from October 17-25.

And ahead of their visits, many of the authors have been sharing their opinions on the importance of books and literature in the digital generation, and saying what audiences in Plymouth can expect when they come to see them.

The festival is organised through a partnership of Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University, Literature Works and Plymouth City Council, with funding and support from Arts Council England, and will feature more than 40 events at venues across the city.

Joanna Trollope, writer of 17 bestselling novels, will launch the festival on Friday and said she believes the festival has an important role to play in igniting public passion about the written word:

“In this digital age, I believe books and literature are more important than ever. A screen doesn’t feed the imagination or expand the mind in the way that something on a page (paper or electronic) does. Technology is another way of reading or acquiring knowledge, but it is not as enriching to the heart and mind as works which demand more from the reader in the first place.”

Will Self, who will be in Plymouth on Tuesday 21 October to talk about his latest novel Shark, added:

“I see it [appearing at festivals] as an essential part of the writer’s life, but writers – paradoxically – have always had their suspicions about the written word, and cleaved to oral communication instead. So I see a certain justness in presenting my work this way. However, I’m not prescriptive. I don’t mind what people take away from the event. My core principle always remains the same: I just want to be misunderstood.”

Joanna Trollope, writer of 17 bestselling novels, said:

In this digital age, I believe books and literature are more important than ever. A screen doesn’t feed the imagination or expand the mind in the way that something on a page (paper or electronic) does.

Sarah Churchwell will talk on Saturday 18 October about her work exploring the inspirations behind F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. She said:

“I love talking to people about my work – it is such a thrill that anyone is interested! It’s my passion and I’m kind of evangelical about it, I want everyone to share the love and admiration I feel for Fitzgerald. So that’s what I hope they’ll take away with them in general, and in specific I feel like we have a lot of cultural misconceptions in our received ideas about The Great Gatsby, and I try to get people to think about the novel in a somewhat different way.”

Caspar Walsh, founder of the Write to Freedom charity, will talk on Saturday 18 October about his latest book and the power of writing to change lives. He said:

“I live for the moments in a room when an audience connects to the story I bring and wants to know more. The questions and discussion from the audience are very often the best bit. No one knows what will happen and no one can control it – a new idea, a connection with my story and their own stories, identifying something that may have been hidden and leaving with more questions than answers – even a desire to buy my books and spread the word.”

The Plymouth International Book Festival is taking place at venues across the city, with Joanna Trollope, Will Self, Nathan Filer and Sarah Hilary reading from their latest novels, with Sir Andrew Motion talking about his life as a poet and reading from his latest collection, The Customs House, and Kate Adie among the authors speaking about the role of women in the First World War.

The South West writers looking to inspire future creative in the region will include Plymouth University lecturers Annika Bautz, Miriam Darlington, Angela Smith, Tom Vowler and Min Wild, as well as Plymouth City Council Poet Laureate Michael Sullivan.

Authors who took part in the Plymouth International Book Festival in 2014

Every year the festival attracts a wealth of talent from across the literary world. Find out who took part in the 2014 festival.

Learn more about last year's authors