Blackpool Social Club Presents: Catherine Chidgey in conversation

Join the prize-winning New Zealand novelist as she discusses her novel, Pet, and her research for a new book – set right here in Blackpool.

“A remarkable and original writer, whose novels have the golden combination of being both riveting and superbly written.” —Lissa Evans

Blackpool Social Club presents author Catherine Chidgey in conversation on 6th October. Chidgey is the bestselling, prize-winning New Zealand novelist and short-story writer. She will be discussing her latest book, Pet, as well her research for a new novel – set right here in Blackpool.

Pet probes themes of racism, misogyny and the oppressive reaches of Catholicism in 1980s New Zealand. It follows 12-year-old Justine who is drawn to her glamorous, charismatic new teacher and longs to be her pet. However, when a thief begins to target the school, Justine’s sense that something isn’t quite right grows ever stronger.

A starving bride sideshow in Blackpool. Photo: Blackpool History Centre, Cyril Critchlow Collection, Getty/CC

Chidgey is visiting Blackpool on a research trip funded by Creative New Zealand. She is hoping to set her next book around Luke Gannon’s ‘Starving Bride’ sideshows. A grisly form of entertainment in 1930s Blackpool, ‘newlywed brides’ dressed in white would be encased in glass coffins and ‘starved’ for 30 days. The prize if they survived was £250 – the equivalent of £18,000 today.

“I’m very interested in finding out more about the brides’ experiences,” says Chidgey. “The mechanics of their lying in their cases, whether they stayed in there 24/7, what the doctors’ examinations entailed.

“The holy grail would be making contact with family members who might be able to fill me in on details that are missing from the reports I’ve read, which seem to focus on Luke Gannon rather than the brides themselves.”

In a one-off free event, Chidgey visits Aunty Social, 28 Topping Street, on 6th October at 7pm, to read from Pet before discussing it with Antonia Charlesworth Stack and taking questions from the audience. Anyone with information or knowledge of the starving bride sideshows is invited to attend and chat to the author. Pet will be available to purchase and Chidgey will sign copies.

Antonia Charlesworth Stack is a journalist and editor of Blackpool Social Club. She is a contributing writer to the Lancashire Stories anthology. You can listen to her Blackpool-based story here.

Tickets to Catherine Chidgey in Conversation are free but limited. Book them via Evenbrite here.

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