Calling all the Heroes for World Book Night

Whether your choice of hero leans towards the literary or the more traditional, April 23 is a date for your diary. After all, it’s the birthday of the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, and St George’s Day too. It’s also World Book Night and Blackpool’s Central Library is taking up the heroes theme with two events.

Fans of the hit Game of Thrones book series are invited to get involved in a special online event organised by Central Library’s Twitter Book Club. Get online from 8pm to discuss book one of the series, A Game of Thrones. Use the hashtag #bookpool and be sure to follow @BpoolLibraries on Twitter. Copies of the books are available to borrow from Blackpool libraries or download as eBooks. Details on eBooks are available at www.blackpool.gov.uk/ebooks.

Alongside this, writer John Simpson Wedge is running a workshop for would-be authors entitled Don’t let your heroes win!’ which will include handy tips and advice on how to overcome plotting problems. AltBlackpool’s Literature Editor Sandra Mangan chatted to John about his upcoming workshop:

Tell me a little about yourself and your writing

I’ve been writing ever since I was a child. I always loved to pick up a pen and create my own worlds and adventures. When I went to the University of East Anglia I joined the university’s Creative Writing Society. The creative writing course is highly renowned and lots of the students are also members of the society, so even though I was studying philosophy I got to work alongside some of the most talented young writers in the country. The society was a great place to hone my writing skills and I started to focus more on poetry and writing for performance. I set up a poetry collective and toured East Anglia performing poetry, but I never lost my love of story writing. Since finishing university I have written a play for the Houses of Parliament’s outreach programme, a children’s book called Norwich: City of Dragons, and this year I’m setting up a partnership with a friend writing adventures for role-playing games. I move to Blackpool earlier this year to join the team working on the Blackpool Museum Project as the Learning and Skills Manager.

Your workshop has an intriguing title – who will it appeal to?

Don’t let your heroes win’ was the best piece of writing advice I have ever been given and it has become my mantra for writing stories. It sounds a little flippant; like it only applies to stories of high adventure with explosions and heroics, but the way I see it every story is a tale of a hero going on a journey, be that emotional or physical. I’m hoping that the workshop will appeal to first time writers, and people looking for ways to flesh out their ideas and turn them into full size novels.

What can people expect from your event?

We’ll be looking at different ways of plotting out stories and giving them the pacing they need so that they don’t burn out. Everyone will have the chance to experiment with plot ideas and see what happens if they take an idea in a totally new direction. We’ll also be doing some exercises which look at tension, and some handy writing activities which can help if you think your plot has hit a dead end.

Who are your literary heroes?

I think the ultimate hero character is Sam Vimes, Terry Pratchett’s deeply put upon watchman. He is a man with many flaws, with no superhuman powers, magical sword or genius mind to see him through. Yet thanks to sheer stubborn competence and the support of his friends he always manages to put things right, or at least stop things getting any worse! Vimes may ‘win’ in the end of his stories, but Terry Pratchett never made it easy for him.

My other literary hero is Tom Natsworthy, who is one of the lead characters in Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines quartet. The books are absolutely fantastic dieselpunk adventures filled with airships, moving cities which devour each other, and resurrected cyborg assassins, yet Tom is an apprentice historian working in a museum! I was 13 when I read the first book and Tom was a character who I empathised with tremendously. He’s a good man if a little naive and always dreamt of adventures until he found himself caught in the middle of one. Plus he works in a museum so I was always going to be a little biased towards him!


Tickets are £3 and the workshop, which will run from 5 to 7pm,  is open to writers over 16. To book a place, call 01253 478080 or pop into Central Library to secure your place.



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