A Novel Evening with Nicholas Royle and Alison Moore

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MMU Student Press Office Journalist Liam Stewart shares his account of a wonderful reading from two local authors, Thursday, 24th January, IABF

Nicholas Royle
In the suitably literary surroundings of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, I had the pleasure of attending an evening with Nicholas Royle and Alison Moore.  Both authors have had recently published novels;  in 2012, Alison’s first novel, The Lighthouse was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Nicholas’s seventh and most recent, First Novel, was released at the start of January to much critical acclaim; Dazed and Confused magazine describing it as ‘A cutting-edge, vital new British novel’.

Nicholas opened the evening with a reading from First Novel; a tantalising extract that painstakingly described an examination of, and an attempt to, dismantle that most controversial of literary devices: Kindle. An action described in such a way as to suggest the sort of trepidation a Neanderthal may have felt when he first discovered fire.

Following this, Alison read an extract from her book The Lighthouse, a narrative that has caused quite a stir in the literary world, and from this extract it is easy to see why, as the crowd was drawn in with its bleak, yet elegant, prose.

Alison Moore
Both authors then jointly spoke of their relationship as author and editor and we were able to gain an insight into the creative processes and inspiration behind each text. The audience were invited to put questions to the authors in what made for a thrilling exchange, as we were given a glimpse into the context and background of both texts and authors.

Alison Moore’s  The Lighthouse

After the event I had the opportunity to speak to Nicholas about his varied roles as author, editor, reviewer, and also senior lecturer in creative writing at MMU. A lifestyle he describes as “increasingly busy and increasingly stressful”. Nicholas spoke of the inspiration he finds in the work of his students, describing how “Some of the work produced by my students is so good; that in itself is inspiring”. Nicholas spoke of his pleasure at seeing students such as Kieran Devaney’s work published and his satisfaction at helping his students achieve their goals.

Nicholas went on to discuss the inspiration behind First Novel being “real things and real people”, a topic he spoke of during the evening when he revealed that he had adapted certain local Didsbury characters for walk-in parts within the novel. This fascination with his surroundings seems to be what drives Nicholas’s imagination, rather than any desire to sell vast quantities of books; as he revealed, “I don’t write novels to make money; I write them out of a certain internal compulsion”.  Nicholas also proclaimed First Novel to be “my favourite by a long way” as well as speaking of his satisfaction at the finished text, after it took a grand total of seven years to complete.
Nicholas Royle’s First Novel
This compulsion also seems to be something that drives Nicholas’s work as an editor, as he described editing Alison’s The Lighthouse as a, “hands on” task, proclaiming that “you can’t be objective about your own work”. Indeed,the relationship between the two authors is one that has borne wonderful fruit in the form of The Lighthouse and First Novel.

This evening served as a reminder of the wonderful creative talent and literary heritage we have amongst the MMU staff and within the city. I was left with a compulsion to immediately set out and read both novels, as I am sure all those in attendance would have also felt, given the queue of people with book in hand, clamouring for a signature on their newly purchased novels; something to take away as a lasting memory of a wonderful evening.

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