Oh my what a wonderful Festival weekend we have had, it's our final day of reports today and I can think of no better note to end a festival on than a conversation with author William Fiennes talking about his writing life and his books, The Snow Geese and The Music Room.
I've heard William talk before and we've met at several literary events in the last few years so I was really looking forward to this and after a quick introduction from me I settled back along with a full tent to listen and to be entranced. I think we'd all agree that some authors, no matter their brilliance on the page just can't do the live event platform thing and I wonder why we expect so much of them these days, but I knew we were in for a treat with William Fiennes, and I think we had yet another hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck hear-a-pin-drop moment as he recounted the history behind the The Snow Geese, the illness, the need for travel and freedom, the subsequent journey, an odyssey of sorts, a migration following a migration, those moments when home seemed so very far away. moments of homesickness and nostalgia, and at the book's centre the steady beat of their wings and the direction that the snow geese provided.
Talking about The Music Room William highlighted the realisation that his older brother Richard, who died some years ago from the consquences of his epilepsy, was not the sort of man to receive an obituary but what a wonderful tribute William has created for him. The exploration of William's childlike acceptance of Richard's problems that slowly develops into an adult understanding of a brother for whom others would need 'to slacken the strings of expectation' but who, for the family, was a cherished and much-loved person in his own right. And underneath this story the steady bass note that tracks the history of brain research.
After lots of questions and discussion amongst the audience we were in for another unexpected but very welcome treat as William read us his latest short story, a fable, 'Why the Ash Tree Has Black Buds' to be published in an anthology this autumn.
One of the traditions that we have established at this festival is our Guest Book. We asked each author to sign it before they left and they all did. I love this picture of William thinking so carefully about what to write... and can you see Rocky looking over his right shoulder from his festival perch...
and I can tell you William wrote something really lovely, and drew us not one but three snow geese in keeping with the knitsuke ones we gave him and which he has told us he will treasure.
Well I think we will all treasure that final event too, so my grateful thanks to William Fiennes for visiting the dovegreyreader tent and to everyone who came to listen.