I recently attended a lunchtime author event listening to Joanna Cannon who wrote the fabulous book ‘ The Trouble with Goats and Sheep‘. The event was at the Crown Hotel in Harrogate who were hosting the annual Literary Festival, so there were many great authors attending.
I decided to attend the event featuring Joanna Cannon as we had become ‘internet friends’ over the past eighteen months and I was not only excited to hear her background to her novel, but I also wanted to meet the lovely lady herself.
The event was well attended by many people clutching their copy of Joanna’s novel ( no doubt eager to get her autograph on their treasured book. Yes I was one of them ! )
Joanna was interviewed by Gerry Foley, a broadcast journalist who was excellent at his question technique, but also allowed the author to talk without interruption.
The audience heard about Joanna’s background ( which is always of great interest don’t you think ?) and what her led her to writing this best selling novel. I loved the stories about her numerous jobs that she worked at, after leaving school at fifteen with just one O Level. Her recounting of her work as a barmaid and delivering pizzas was very illuminating and inspirational as it offered proof that anything is achievable whatever your start in life. Joanna told us of her dream to become a doctor and her journey to achieving this. Joanna told us about her life as a medical doctor ( she is actually a psychiatrist ) and how she started writing ‘Goats and Sheep’ in her car in the hospital car park during her very limited spare time. Her tales of hospital life were told with humour and at times were very poignant as we heard how she struggled with life as a junior doctor and the challenges she faced. It made me feel very humbled and sorry for our medical staff working across the NHS and how we do take their marvellous work and dedication for granted.
Anyway back to the book. ‘The Trouble with Goats and Sheep‘ was Joanna’s debut novel published in 2016 by The Borough Press (Harper Collins). Within two weeks of publication the book reached at No 3 in The Sunday Times bestsellers list. What an amazing achievement from a new author !
The book is set during the heatwave of 1976. And if you are of a certain age you will remember this particular summer in the UK very well. Personally I can remember been sent by my mother to queue at the water standpipe down the road with two large buckets and the struggle to carry them back home without spilling a drop. Water was in short supply during the heatwave and standpipes became a common sight on the streets on the UK.
The novel follows two young ten year old girls, Grace and Tilly, who set out to solve the mystery of the disappearance of their neighbour, Mrs Creasy. The story revolves around the community that the girls live in and it is through their eyes that we see the individual characters unravel. This scene is backed up by a nostalgic and true representation of life back in 1976 and it was this that I especially loved. Do you remember the teen magazine Jackie, Angel Delight, Babycham and the oppressive heat of that long dry summer ? I do, and if you don’t remember then this book will have you transported back in no time and you will find yourself immersed in another world. That’s how brilliant Joanna is at involving you into her book. Her writing is at times so intense, you can almost FEEL the heat of the overpowering sun ! I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all ages although it will be especially welcomed by anyone who remembers that long, hot summer of 1976.
At the author event in Harrogate, Joanna also gave us a sneak preview of her new book ‘ Three Things About Elsie’ which is due out in January 2018. The book explores old age and memory and is set in a home for the elderly, with a mystery surrounding a charming new male resident. I cannot wait to read this book, especially as my own mother lives in sheltered housing, which I know is full of real, interesting characters, all with a story to tell.
Please comment below if you have read ‘The Trouble with Goats and Sheep‘ and let me know what you thought of it. Do you remember the hot summer of 1976 ? If so, what memories do you have ?
Until next time dear friends
For more information on Joanna Cannon please visit her website at http://www.joannacannon.com