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Monday, 1 November 2010

Event Summary: Foyles Fear Fest

Yesterday I went along to the Foyles Fear Fest event. The theme was angels versus demons and even though I never celebrate Halloween, it was such a ghoulish way to spend the afternoon. There was a slimy lucky dip full of creepy crawlies, the staff were the living dead, the room was full of cobwebs and there was a frankly scream-worthy mummy which had glowing red eyes and vibrated every time you touched it. Oh let me not forget the very atmospheric screaming in the background.

I can honestly say it was one of the best events I've been to. Not only was it sumpremely well-organised but the discussions were fascinating and went far beyond the books the authors had written.

There were five authors on the panel: William Hussey, Sarwat Chadda, Sam Enthoven, Lee Weatherly and Cliff McNish.

Jeremy Vile was our host for the event and it took the format of a chat show. Jeremy asked the panelists questions about the choices they made in their writing when exploring the angels versus demons mythology.

I was absolutely blown away by the depth of the discussion. The authors talked about how the concept of angels has become personalised in modern society. Apparently, there is an abundance of books on angelology and now many people believe that each person has their very own angel. They discussed the fact that angels and demons appeal to us because they allow us to remove responsibility from our selves. If we always have an angel to look after us, then maybe we can take more risks with our selves. If the world is populated by demons, then our actions can be attributed to the evil that is manipulating us. I completely agree that religion has become more personalised. Fewer people go to church but still many people believe in some sort of God. I wonder if it is because we afraid that we are alone in the universe. I am not religious and yet I can see that one of the greatest appeals of any religion is the sense of community that it gives to people and the connectedness between people.

It really was fascinating and I am still contemplating some of the themes that were discussed. Take the idea of the Archangel Michael, he was, according to Sarwat, the right hand of God and his role was to fulfil the work of God unquestioningly. The writers discussed how characters who follow rules unquestioningly are not interesting to read about. It is the freedom of a character to make choices - good or bad - that make them appealing or intriguing to us as readers.

This was what I discussed with Cliff as I got my book signed. I first did the whole fan girl thing and told him that Angel was one of my favourite books (which is true obviously). I told him that I love the ambiguity of the story. He told me that in the US the book has faced some criticism because of the portrayal of angels. I could tell you more about why it has faced opposition but that would be a giant sized spoiler so I won't. Just go and buy his book. It is worth every penny! Any how, I talked to him about Paradise Lost which is another of my passions and said that Lucifer is the most interesting character as the charismatic hero. He is the angel who expresses free will and leads the uprising. Whether that choice is perecived as wrong or right is irrevelant, it is the fact that he makes a choice which is interesting. It was such an intellectual discussion for a Sunday afternoon and I have to say it was one of those days where I came away feeling that one of my favourite writers lived up to the hero status that I attributed to them. See?! Complete fan girl.

After the talk and the signing, Caroline (Portrait of a Woman), Lynsey  (Narratively Speaking) and I played around in the grave yard and took home a goodie bag.

It was also great to see Liz from MFB and upcoming debut author Kaz Mahoney. Here is a little pic I took of them:

Thank you very much to Foyles for hosting such an amazing event. Thank you also to the authors for creating such a stimulating debate. And finally, thank you to the lovely publicists who put things in our goodie bags especially Sally at Usborne.


Lynsey Newton said...

WOOHOO for a great day and wll worth the trip to London for! Nice report Becky :)

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

What an awesome afternoon you had! It's so great that the event was both fun and deep, as the authors obviously had a wonderful discussion on angels and demons. They may just be right about the reasons why people (I included) are interested in these supernatural beings. Hehe, you even had a fangirl moment, it wouldn't be the same without it!:)

I'm glad you had such a great day! I really enjoyed reading your report.

Lauren said...

Sounds like a brilliant event. Really interesting stuff on the appeal of angels and demons - I wonder about that too. Thanks for the write up. :)

Sarah said...

Fab write up Becky, I'm sooooo gutted that I missed the event!! I was really looking forward to seeing you all & meeting the authors & it sounds like I missed a really interesting discussion. Glad you all had a great time though :o)

Caroline said...

Great article!
It's too bad I missed the beginning of it, it sounded so fascinating!
I am so glad you could meet Cliff McNish and talk to him!
I totally agree: Best. Event. Ever!!

asamum said...

Wow sounds awesome. The perks of living in London *sigh*

Becky said...

Lynsey, wasn't it just brilliant!

Irena, you're right, without my fan girl moments my life would be so much less me!

Lauren, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you get to come to a future Foyles event.

Sarah, oh Sarah. I hope you feel better soon!

Caroline, woo hoo! It was so much fun.

Emma, it is true being on London's doorstep is amazing for the opportunities.

prophecygirl said...

This sounds and looks like it was an amazing event. Glad you enjoyed yourself, and I'm very jealous you got to meet Sarwat!