Saturday, 3 June 2017
#BooksintheBelfry #FlamsteadBookFestival #AndyHamilton
On Thursday 1st June, I went to see Andy Hamilton at the Flamstead Book Festival. Andy Hamilton was talking about his debut novel, The Star Witness, which publishes on the 15th June 2017 with Unbound. It was a lovely evening. The event was held at the church of St Lawrence in the village of Flamstead and it is the perfect setting. The church was absolutely full and Harpenden Books were there selling early release copies of Hamilton's book!
Andy Hamilton is the writer behind "Drop the Dead Donkey", "Outnumbered" and more recently, he's become a regular panelist on "Have I Got News For You". He has been writing comedy for radio and TV for about 40 years and this is his first novel.
Hamilton explained that his book was about a character who made bad decisions and has to face the consequences of lying. Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
From comedy legend Andy Hamilton comes this consistently hilarious and brilliant debut novel bursting with satire, wit and even a little heart.
Kevin Carver is a household name. A popular TV soap star, he’s coasting through life in the same semi-detached, slightly smug way he’s always done. But when he dumps his much-too-young-for-him girlfriend in the same callous way he’s come to treat those around him, he makes the first in a series of mistakes.
One poor decision leads to another and, as Kevin wades deeper into a moral grey area, things go from bad to very much worse. The national treasure finds himself the subject of vitriolic press attacks, a police investigation, and so much public loathing he begins to wonder if he has any chance of receiving justice. As the line blurs between his own life and that of the character he plays on TV, Kevin must face the consequences of his actions if he is ever to right his sinking ship.
The Star Witness is the story of one self-regarding man’s descent into disgrace and his journey back to join the human race. A pin-sharp satire on the shallows of modern media culture and the dysfunctional relationship we all have with the idea of ‘celebrity’, it will keep you laughing, cringing and guessing until the very last page.
Andy said The Star Witness slightly defies genres as it is a comedy, a drama and a thriller. He chatted about the use of categorising books and said that as life doesn't ever fall neatly into different genres, why should his book! Andy also talked about how comedy helps to shrink things that would otherwise be terrifying and after a difficult time, it's the comedy we often remember in those moments of drama.
It was an entertaining evening with Hamilton sharing stories about recording "Outnumbered" and breaking the first rule of television which is never to work with children. The original concept for the show developed from a scene Hamilton had recorded with his daughter. His idea for the scene coincided with the eruption of parenting manuals and the plethora of advice that appeared to make parents feel inadequate. Hamilton wanted to bring humour and comedy back into parenting and show the reality of it - and the stress of it, through comedy. He has always felt that children can often sound over scripted and forced when acting and he was trying to find a way to make a more natural performance. With his daughter, then aged 7, he decided to give her an outline of where the scene was going so she was clear about the main points but would then interpret things in her own way. The result was perfect and Hamilton realised that you can give children a sequence to remember and they will they turn it around, mix it up and put it into words that you could never come up yourself!
He also talked about "Drop the Dead Donkey" and the experience of writing something cutting edge, topical and original. Hamilton is also very fond of his radio programmes and the warmth of radio listeners and their positive feedback about the shows.
The transition from writing a script to writing a novel came about almost accidentally. The Star Witness started as a play but it was too big - too long for a play but not quite big enough for anything else so he began to shape it into a novel. He was used to writing lots of dialogue but has thoroughly enjoyed the process of developing this into prose and how much closer to characters you can get when writing a novel.
Hamilton has loads of ideas for more books and is currently working on a collection of stories that centre around lots of different characters who are all attending the same football match.
You can also listen to a podcast called "Inside Donald Trump" featuring Michael Burke and written by Hamilton. I had a listen today and it was entertaining! It can be found on Sound Cloud or iTunes.
Thanks so much to all the volunteers who helped to organise the event - it was a very gentle and enjoyable evening and great to hear Hamilton talking about his career to date. I am looking forward to reading the book and will let you know my thoughts...... Look out for it from the 15th June if you fancy something that sounds entertaining, fun and gripping.
If you want to find out more about Flamstead and their book festival or see more photos from the event, please visit their website here: www.flamsteadbookfestival.com
For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk