By Ruth Hudson
Family, friends, students, and writers gathered in The International Anthony Burgess Foundation to celebrate the launch of Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) graduate David Chadwick’s debut novel Liberty Bazaar. Having already enjoyed a fruitful career as an award-winning journalist and co-writer of The Battle Of Twin Atlantic, Chadwick went on to study a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at MMU.
Liberty Bazaar received outstanding feedback from the audience. Host Livi Michael, herself a fiction writer and senior lecturer at the Manchester Writing School, revealed that Liberty Bazaar is, “a very polished piece of fiction,” adding that “[David] is a very good researcher and very good at incorporating the research without it affecting the story.”
The discussion also attracted those who wanted to know more about the book’s subject matter, the American Civil War. Audience member Janet Jiscir told Humanity Hallows, “I thought the idea behind the novel sounded absolutely fascinating. We just like coming to talks, we find it interesting, what prompts authors to write either fiction or non-fiction.”
Proud friends and family celebrated Chadwick’s achievements. Iris Feindt, an associate lecturer and fellow student at MMU, said, “He one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. He’s very modest and he’s extremely talented. This is so long overdue so we are very happy for him.”
We spoke to Chadwick’s son, Sam, on what it’s like living with a writer. He told us, “I had to do a promotional video for him and help him out, that’s inspired me to write something like that.”
Finally, we spoke to the author himself, asking how he felt about the novel’s critical acclaim. He responded, “Really fulfilled and rewarded. It’s been a long, hard slog, so it’s really rewarding when it all pays off. I probably would have written the same novel if I hadn’t done the MA at MMU but it would have been a very different novel with a different voice and a different approach.”
Discussing the importance of history in fiction, he added, “It’s certainly part of the role, I think, of contemporary authors to look into the past, because there’s a lot that it can teach us for the present.”
Then, as one historical-fiction writer to another, Chadwick answered questions from Livi Michael based on the concept of writing historical fiction. He explained, “Trying to get into the mind of a slave brought up in a South Carolina plantation was challenging but very rewarding.” Expanding on why he used Liverpool as a backdrop for the slave narrative – set in 1863 – he said, “It was the slave trade capital of the world – 1.5 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic on Liverpool ships.”
The discussion was warmly and loudly applauded. Past student at MMU Alison Jeapes said, “What came across to me was the passion of both writers for the era that they were writing about.”
Reflecting on his experience of the evening, Chadwick revealed, “It’s been a very diverse audience – people from MMU, people from my professional background, and friends and family – it’s been a fantastic night.”
As the event drew to a close, every audience member seemed to be clutching a signed copy of Liberty Bazaar.