First writes

Putting debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: James Bradley

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Who he? James Bradley was born in Adelaide in 1967 and has a legal, research and editing background. He has written a collection of poetry, Paper Nautilus, and edited a book of short stories by his Aussie contemporaries, entitled Blur.

His debut It’s called Wrack and if gongs are a measure of quality, this is storming stuff. Examples are the Fellowship of Australian Writers Literary Award and the Kathleen Mitchell Literary Award while it was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book.

Basically Basically, it's a re-writing of his country’s history, a murder mystery and a tale of sexual obsession Haunting is one word for II. Another is ambitious.

First line test ’From the personal Journal of William Townshend, Surgeon, aboard His Majesty's Vessel Berke/y - T7th August 1794. It comes as more than some little surprise to me that lam able to write these words.‘

Laugh ratio Not a great bundle. You know it's gorng to be a serious work when y0u spot the grainy world chart drawrngs and the multi-definition of the word ’wrack' on the opening pages as well as the intermittent quotes from the likes of Isidore, Thomas Mann and Queen Elizabeth I. For whom the book is credited 'This book is dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Richard FranCis Haren (1907-1994).

The event He Will be discussing his own Vision of what Australia means to him along with other top young Antipodean scribblers.

(Brian Donaldson)

ta James Bradley/Kathryn Heyman/EI/iot Pear/man/Sue Woolfe (Australian Writing) Spiege/ten t, 30 Aug, 3.30pm, £6 (£4).


’I’ve seen these people on their motorbikes satanic types who deal in drugs. They haunt the highways . . . Joyce Carol Oates has lived through an impecunious childhood, through abused girlfriends, through 27 novels. She is one of the most respected and prolific of contemporary American writers, fitting literature somewhere between teaching at Princeton and running The Ontario Review with her husband.

Her latest novel, Man Crazy, follows the story of lngrid, a ’doll-girl’, so affected by her absentee father and alcoholic mother that she searches for solace through men, drugs and finally Satan, before realising control of her life. 'Many of my girlfriends lived like Ingrid,’ explains Oates. ’I wanted to document their experiences, to show that masochistic side in us all.’

Her work, including You Must Remember This, Solstice and Bel/ef/eur, is renowned for exploring the fluid boundaries between the socially unacceptable and the insane, painting images of characters that are not ourselves, but certainly resemble someone we know. 'All we want from this life is to know that our punishment is justified. It's that simple.’ (Nicky Agate)

a Joyce Carol Oates (The Bigger Picture), Studio Theatre, 30 Aug, 3.30pm, £5 (£3).

KIDS ROUND’UP Events For Children

The Book Festival’s Children’s Programme promises to go out with a big bang. A constellation of stars have trailed a blaze to Edinburgh this festival, and this week’s Great Bears include Joan Lingard, Michael Rosen, Anne Fine, Anthony Browne, Melvin Burgess and J K Rowling, author of The Harry Potter Phenomenon.

If your offspring go starry-eyed at the mention of soccer, they're in for a treat this week. Alan Gibbon, author of the Total Football series, Ivor Baddiel, football trivia guru, and Michael Hardcastle, sports fiction writer all take to the turf and a chance to meet their readers head on.

From football to fairies. The enchanted world of the Flower Fairies contains poems, dances, a qurz and fairy crowns to take home. Brownies an’ fairies an’ lang-legged beasties are the subject of traditional Scots storyteller Ewan McVicar. And there's more traditional Celtic stories and songs about pirate sea queens, banshees and fairies from Claire Mulholland.

Round it all off with a spell-binding session with Magic Bob and, poof! That’s your Book Festival gone until next year. (Gabe Stewart)

3 Events For Children, various venues, unti/37 Aug.


Ian Rankin

tan Rankin: sharp mind

Having won the Crime Writer‘s Association's Golden Dagger Award. seen six of his novels in the Scottish top ten at once and his iatest. me Hanging Garden, maintain those high standards, Ian Rankin is indeed one of Britain’s most successful crime novelists.

Featuring cynical ex-alcoholic Di iohn Rebus who pounds the mean streets of Edinburgh that festival-goers would be wise to avoid. Rankin's books draw inspiration from the city’s Jekyll And Hyde character. ‘lt's not cut and dried,‘ notes Rankin. 'You have this elegant facade, but then

there's this murkiness underneath.‘

Rankin's aim is to emulate what James Ellroy has done with his LA-based tales. 'l use historical stories as a kick off point and take it from there. In Black And Blue l took the Bible John case and used a ”what if . . . ‘2‘" Scotland as a location does pose some problems though. ‘America’s 3 very romantic place,’ Rankin insists. ‘Put ”the babe with the smokin' ‘45“ there and it’s cool. Outside a supermarket in Fife, and maybe it's not so cool.’

(Richard Rees)

a tan Rankin (Meet The Author) Post Office Theatre, 27 Aug, 1 7.30307, £6 (£4). Ian Rankin/Manda Scott/Val McDermid/Chn‘stopher Brookmyre/ Paul Johnston (A Night Of Scottish Crime) Post Office Theatre, 28 Aug, 7.30pm, f 7 (£5)


'It’s originally thought to be a frothy romp,’ says Tony Warren of his fourth novel Ful/ Steam Ahead. 'But then you find out it has a steel dagger in its back.’ A bit like its creator then. From boy actor to full-time drink and drug addict in the space of 20 years, Warren has had his share of life experiences. Remembered most famously for being the creator of Coronation Street, which he wrote when he was Just 23, he had acted in numerous radio, television and theatre productions beforehand, and written the film Ferry Cross The Mersey and the television trilogy The War Of Dark/e Pi/beam, before losing the plot completely in the late 60s.

He absconded across the Atlantic to California where he became embroiled in a world of heavy drink and hard drugs, and there he stayed

for ten years. This decade of decadence earned him the nickname Rip Van Warren. ’I returned to discover that nobody knew who I was,’ he recollects. 'My name had even been taken off Coronation Street. It was a very odd period.’ After another ten years of recovery, he started to write a novel about a man who creates a soap opera... That novel became the best-selling The Lights Of Manchester, and he never looked back. Ful/ Steam Ahead contains the same characters, but you don't need to be familiar with the former to enjoy the latter. The parallels between Warren and the main character, Mickey Shaw, are obvious, but he insists that it’s not an autobiography. 'I am working on one, but that won’t be out until 2000.’ (Kirsty Knaggs) a Tony Warren (Meet The Author) Post Office Theatre, 28 Aug, 71.30am, f 6 (£4).

27 Aug—10 Sep 1998 THE usres