A Year of Orenda – The Orenda Roadshow – Day Two: Stockton

The Orenda Roadshow hits the Stockton Library – hosted by Drake The Bookshop

Okay. So I tried to be a little less sucky with the pictures today, and, to be fair, having much better lighting helped. My appalling eyesight less so but hey. I left my glasses in the hotel and I am also vain – sue me. 🤨😋

It was a little bit of a shuffle around of the line up tonight with David F. Ross and Doug Johnstone saying their goodbyes north of the border and new faces (at least as far as the roadshow goes) Will Carver, Kjell Ola Dahl and Helga Flatland picking up where they left off. As I’m sure you can imagine, this meant that the evening was every bit as colourful as the previous one, and there was as much laughter as there was serious bookish chat.

Because I was feeling a little more human tonight (barely but I’m putting it all down to my mango and malteser button dinner combo rather than an improvement in my non-existent sleep) I sat at the front and dutifully took lots of pictures for all of you to wonder/puzzle over.

I never said they were good pictures, just that they were, in fact, pictures … Wowing the brilliant and bustling Stockton crowd tonight under the watchful eye of Mrs Orenda herself – Karen Sullivan (who attempted and almost succeeded in keeping her authors in check) were: Vanda Symon (Containment); Thomas Enger (Death Deserved); Matt Wesolowski (Beast); Johana Gustawsson (Blood Song); Will Carver (Nothing Important Happened Today); Louise Beech (I Am Dust); Helen Fitzgerald (Ash Mountain); Antti Tuomainen (Little Siberia); Simone Buchholz (Mexico Street); Kjell Ola Dahl (Sister); Helga Flatland (A Modern Family) and Michael J Malone (In The Absence of Miracles).

Twelve lovely authors tonight meant twelve lovely readings. Well eleven lovely readings and Will Carver who got in a little bit of trouble with Karen for reading too fast from Nothing Important Happened Today. To be fair, the speed did really suit the reading – part of the ‘How To Form A Cult’ guide book that is littered throughout his book, building to a crescendo akin to one of those stupid ‘choose life – buy some stupidly overpriced trainers’ or ‘use this bank’ adverts you see on the TV all the time. Considering the context and styling of his book it worked very well. It was lovely hearing an excerpt from Sister the new Frølich/Oslo Detectives novel from Kjell Ola Dahl too which sounds absolutely thrilling – two cases tied together by murder – as well as hearing from Helga Flatland as she spoke about her family saga, A Modern Family. Mandie and I listened to the audio of that book together last year and loved it – so much in it we could identify with.

All of the readings were brilliant as always but if you want to know a bit more about the books and recreate your own version of the roadshow at home, you can read an extract of some of them by following the links below. Today, in honour of the North East venue, my feature includes two of the regions top writers – Matt Wesolowski and Louise Beech. And yes – Louise has previously lived in Stockton with her Granny so it all counts!

Beast – Matt Wesolowski

Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories…

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’
However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire…

Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

I Am Dust – Louise Beech

A haunted theatre
A murdered actress
Three cursed teenagers
A secret that devastates them all…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?
Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

A Modern Family – Helga Flatland

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

Ash Mountain – Helen FitzGerald

Fran hates Ash Mountain, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns to her hometown to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer.

As old friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…

Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…

I’m not sure if things are going to get more or less rowdy by the end of the week – I guess it depends on how travel weary everyone gets. QUestions tonight ranged from translations, narrator choices and input into TV and movie deals, through to a very political question about whether the decline in languages studied or taught at University would affect the industry and which other Orenda book did each of the authors wish they had written … Nothing like a bit of on the spot pressure there then. 🤣

There is still plenty of time to join us in one of the remaining three venues – The Wirral, Southwell or Penarth. Ticket links are below. And I only say us because one, I will be there – two, Mandie will be there and, three – all these fabulous authors will be there too. How can you resist?

26th February: Linghams Booksellers, Heswall – Neston Cricket Club
27th February: The Bookcase, Lowdham – Southwell Library, Southwell
28th February: Griffin Books, Penarth – West Glamorgan Golf Club

Maybe I’ll see you at one of the events. Failing that, hopefully I will keep you. up to speed and feeling as though you are still part of the action.

Have a brilliant day all. I’m off home today (yippee) before driving with mandie up to the Wirral. Some nice reading to cram in on the train on there way though.

And I picked up my first me book of the tour last night – a copy of Kjell Ola Dahl’s Sister. Pre-publication copy too!!! A very happy reader I am then. Six more books to buy but at least I’ll have the car to carry them home in, rather than just a backpack and a train …


6 thoughts on “A Year of Orenda – The Orenda Roadshow – Day Two: Stockton

  1. The pictures are amazing – mine would have been all shaky and blurry without my glasses (yes, I am vain too!) Thanks for making those of us who cannot be there (sad sniff!) feel like we are participating.


      1. Ha ha. I’m something (I think the word is mad …) Very likely a one off for me but while I can afford it and am able I am giving it all a go. Who knows what is round the corner right?

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