Book Festival staff’s favourite picks

Steve Backshall
Steve Backshall

This week, staff behind the scenes at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival pick their favourite events from this year’s 2014 programme.

“John is a great storyteller, and The Wolf in Winter grips you from the explosive first chapter, never letting up the pace.

“It’s set in Maine on the East Coast of the US, with private investigator Charlie Parker searching for a missing young woman, then discovering the unsettling truth about a wealthy, seemingly respectable community whose founders emigrated from Northumberland centuries earlier.

“It’s a compelling read, with something menacing, wild and ancient at its heart, and fans of gothic horror and hard-boiled American detective thrillers will love Connolly’s masterful, chilling, darkly humorous writing style.

“I saw John at a memorable event at the Mainstreet Trading Company in St Boswells a few years ago, when he talked passionately about the writing that has inspired him – by fellow Dubliner, Bram Stoker, and by author of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett; he did such a persuasive job that I bought copies of every single book he mentioned!

“It’s no surprise that he is considered to be in the front rank of thriller writers, and all of his novels have been Sunday Times best-sellers.

“I’m looking forward to seeing John back in the Borders, for what promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s festival.”

“Where better to hear charismatic and articulate young writer, Robyn Young, talk about the final book of her trilogy on the life of Robert the Bruce than just a few yards from the burial place of the hero-king’s heart?

“And, not to be missed by anyone of secondary school age - or the young at heart - is Simon Mayo, the BBC 2 star who has turned brilliantly to children’s and young adult fiction featuring 14-year-old Itchingham Lofte, science freak and accident-prone anti-hero. We are very lucky to have Simon at the festival so please make sure we give him a big Borders welcome!”

“I’ll be working throughout the festival so our young kids get to take my husband for a couple of unmissable shows on Father’s Day: Mr Gum is a legend to 7-plus kids, and Andy Stanton is doing a special one-off event for BBF this year with a mixture of storytelling, mad jokes and true-life tales about being a writer.

“Steve Hartley brings a breath of fresh air to the Family Book Festival with his Oliver Fibbs and the Clash of the Mega-Robots – a giant pair of knickers and an inflatable bogey are used in his stage set, so I’m sure my family won’t be disappointed!”

“If you like your food writing a little on the sharp side, then Jay Rayner is the one for you. Jay is never off the media with his BBC One Show reports, food quiz for Radio 4 and regular critiques for the press. He’s just as good in person, and will be coming to the Borders to take us on a journey through the world’s edible landscape with his book A Greedy Man in a Hungry World. Again, we are lucky to have pulled him up to the Borders so grab your opportunity to see a foodie celeb in the flesh!”