Orenda Roadshows 2020 – A Preview

I can’t believe it – conclusive proof (if it were actually needed) that I am a total tool I forgot London. In all of my roundups of the Orenda Roadshows I have attended, and all of my attempts to persuade you that you really want to attend one of this year’s five events, I forgot one of the biggest and one of the original roadshows from 2017 … London!!!

How the heck did I manage that right? 15 absolutely brilliant Orenda authors in one room and what a night it was.

The Orenda Roadshow 2020 Penarth Edition

The uninitiated amongst you, or those of you who are either new to #teamOrenda or who have perhaps not followed the fortunes of the team as closely as some of us (I mean me obvs) may be wondering just what an Orenda Roadshow is. Well … an Orenda Roadshow is like a book launch of event but on steroids. A nationwide touring celebration of all things Orenda where you will find the largest number of authors in any one place, outside of a bog standard festival, talking about their books, sharing the book love and spending time with their readers. It is both informative and entertaining. Fun and a place for serious book purchasing. A little birdy (Karen) tells me there is also the chance you may be able to pick up some not yet released titles as the authors prepare for their upcoming launches. You just don’t know.

To give you an idea what to expect, I’m going to be resharing my round up of the last three years worth of Orenda Roadshows. You can find my write up on the 2017 even in Liverpool right here and the 2018 Warwick event, which even the Beast from the East couldn’t stop, right here. Before I take you back over the highlights of the London event, here is the list of this year’s venues and the bookshops you need to stalk on Twitter and Facebook to keep abreast of the event and book your tickets.

24th February: Waterstones Glasgow
25th February: Drake the Bookshop, Stockton on Tees
26th February: Linghams Booksellers, Heswall
27th February: The Bookcase, Lowdham
28th February: Griffin Books, Penarth

Be warned though – these events are super popular so I’d recommend booking as soon as possible. Tickets are already on sale for Heswall, Stockton-on-Tees, Penarth and Glasgow so don’t delay. Book today. For those of you who are still undecided, let me tempt you some more with some info about some of the authors who will be appearing this year …

Appearing in Glasgow: David F. Ross; Doug Johnstone; Helen FitzGerald; Louise Beech; Thomas Enger; Johana Gustawsson; Simone Buchholz; Antti Tuomainen; Michael J. Malone; Matt Wesolowski ;Vanda Symon

Appearing in Stockton: Helen FitzGerald; Louise Beech; Thomas Enger; Johana Gustawsson; Simone Buchholz; Antti Tuomainen; Michael J. Malone; Matt Wesolowski; Vanda Symon; Will Carver; Kjell Ola Dahl; Helga Flatland

Appearing in Heswall: Helen FitzGerald; Louise Beech; Thomas Enger; Johana Gustawsson; Simone Buchholz; Antti Tuomainen; Michael J. Malone; Matt Wesolowski; Vanda Symon; Will Carver; Kjell Ola Dahl; Helga Flatland

Appearing in Penarth: Helen FitzGerald; Louise Beech; Thomas Enger; Johana Gustawsson; Simone Buchholz; Antti Tuomainen; Michael J. Malone; Matt Wesolowski; Vanda Symon; Will Carver; Kjell Ola Dahl; West Camel; Matt Johnson

The Orenda Roadshow – London


Okay. So normally this would be a big old blather about how I have been really busy at work and doing a bit of reading and blah, blah, blah. Well not this week. This week I have barely been at work, I’ve hardly read any books but I have been really busy. Really busy enjoying the bookish life which in this case has led to book buyage and book listing for buyage now I am home. In fact, I have been that busy that this weeks round up post is being split into two pieces. Yes. I am going to bore you that much today. Lucky you right?

As you can see from the picture above, me and my sister spent an evening with the lovely ladies and gents of Orenda books on Wednesday night. Much like the Liverpool roadshow it was an absolutely brilliant night only this time there were no less than 15 authors there. Fifteen! From left to right (although hard to tell in this picture – I do have some slightly better ones too I promise) Gunnar Staalesen, Kjell Ola Dahl (finally know how to pronounce his name properly – yay), Michael J Malone, Sarah Stovell, Matt Wesolowski, Steph Broadribb, Kati Hiekkapelto, Thomas Enger (I believe in Leeds it is now tradition to insert an mmmm here…) Paul Hardisty, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Antti Tuomainen, Stanley Trollip (Michael Stanley), Ragnar Jónasson, Su Bristow and of course the lovely Karen Sullivan. (And you might not believe me but I actually spelled all of the above without having to look them up. Of course if there are typos, then you probably will believe me but I think they’re correct…)

Now not only were we treated to a bit of an introduction to each of these fabulous writers (I can’t believe the now Petrona Award Winning author Gunnar Staalesen has been writing for 40 years – seriously does not look old enough), but we were also treated to a reading from each of them from their latest novels too. I always love to hear an author read from their own work as I think it just adds to the whole experience, the nuances they bring to the reading as they are able to draw from the ultimate perspective and understanding which they created when the book was written – the voice of the character within their head. Absolutely brilliant each and every one, and some wicked humour from the crew as always. I suspect Karen truly has her hands full on these here roadshows.


All those books. Aren’t they pretty? Now I may have purchased one or two (or six) books on the night because, you know, I bought a copy of all of the books on the last roadshow so it seemed only polite to purchase the ones I was missing… When I had the pleasure of meeting Johana Gustawsson she told me that my review made her cry – in a good way – which was so wonderful to hear. I love that kind of feedback as it means I am actually doing something right. I don’t manage many things so have to celebrate the successes when they come. I then got a squiggle from Paul Hardisty who bowed down to me in thanks for my review. Perhaps a tad excessive 😉 but it did make me chuckle. At the end of the day, all I do is write what I think. They do the hard work in writing such a wonderful book in the first place.


My greatest fear in all of this, and any blogger/reviewer can tell you that it becomes infinitely more difficult the more perfect a book is, is that what I write will not do the book the justice it deserves. That I will not capture in words the depth of emotion and often sheer joy that I experience when reading the sometimes harrowing, often lyrical, simplistically and stylistically beautiful and yet always ultimately magical words that these authors pour onto each and every page.

I am no writer. This post alone should convince you of that fact. I am not someone who finds it easy to put emotions and feelings into words. I’m just an moderately literate, occasionally eloquent numpty with a book, a blog and a passion for reading. I lack the creativity, the ability and, hell, lets be honest, the vocabulary to write anything truly insightful. As I sit and stare at a blank document for half an hour trying to find the perfect first line, and more often than not failing, I end up descending into a long and incessant ramble, or as I like to think of it, spewing my thoughts onto the page. I try not to think about it too much and I try not to go back and tweak (I suck at editing too – can you tell 😉 ). I like to leave my review in pretty much its first draft because to me it needs to be organic. Raw. Often I have to write a review straight away because I need to capture the excitement that the book has created within me. Sometimes I wait a while, gathering my thoughts because I need that extra time to recover and reflect. Orenda books, more often than not, fall into the latter category. Because that is what the process of reading these books does to me. Makes me need to take time to reflect. Each and every one.

The books may differ greatly in tone, narrative style and ultimately content but each book has taken me on a wonderful journey, capturing and exploring landscapes and cultures that I am often unfamiliar with, but making them live and breathe. Making them feel so real to me that I could almost be there. Be it a war in Angola, a concentration camp from World War II, domestic noir, serious investigation, exploring environmental or socio-politcal issues, folklore or just a damned thrilling chase across six US states, the emotions that their words evoke are just… argh, so strong, so mentally and physically challenging at times that the book truly knocks you for six, but all ultimately just brilliant. If you haven’t ready any Orenda books yet then I urge you to pick one up and start now. There really is something for everyone in Orenda’s rapidly expanding catalogue and in my opinion, for what it’s worth, these are some of the best author’s out there right now.

And I am gutted to be honest. I have had the perfect opportunity over the last five days to tell these people how absolutely fabulous I think their work is. How much I appreciate the gift that they have given me in creating such varied and vibrant worlds for me to immerse myself in. And I bottled it. Mostly it was just a nod of the head and a kind of ‘alright? I really enjoyed your book.’ cut to awkward smile and then scuttle away quickly. So I can only hope that perhaps my reviews have done the books justice. That they do understand how much I really love their writing and how, if I had a little more courage and wasn’t such a tool, I would tell them that in person. But I don’t and I am. So I guess I’m kind of doing that now. Badly. In a sort of mad rambling kind of way. As you do. (Or at least I do…)

So mad ramblings aside, if my thoughts and comments haven’t tempted/convinced you to dive in to one of the books then perhaps some pretty covers will. And they truly are pretty 😉 Almost as pretty as the squiggles inside them 🙂

If you want to purchase any of the books from these guys then you can find the relevant links by selecting their name below.

Gunnar Staalesen | Kjell Ola Dahl | Michael J. Malone | Sarah Stovell

Matt Wesolowski | Steph Broadribb |  Kati Hiekkapelto | Thomas Enger

Paul E. Hardisty | Louise Beech | Johana Gustawsson

Antti Tuomainen | Michael Stanley | Ragnar Jónasson | Su Bristow

You can also check out all of Orenda Books’ other brilliant authors over at the website Orendabooks.co.uk

Ooh. And just to mention, I was lucky enough to pick up a sampler for two upcoming releases from Orenda. Snare by Lilja Sigurðardóttir which will be out in e-book in August and paperback in October, and The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen which is out in October. I’m really not sure what you can say about a chapter which opens with a line about a urine sample… 

If all of this sounds right up your street, make sure to book your tickets for one of this year’s events and join me, and many other eager readers, in spending a fabulous night of bookishness with some of the nicest authors on the circuit. Three weeks tomorrow!!! Can you believe it?

See you soon.


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