Our town in its own write

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Scratch any posh city south of Watford Gap and you can find literature festivals in abundance.

But Blackpool’s is different. It also involves the community, rather than being one of those pay-on-the-door affairs to hear a poet or author hold forth about their latest work.

And, in fact, if you chat to some of the authors who are heading our way you will find they have a local link too.

Take Adrian Barnes, tipped to be the next John (Day of the Triffids) Wyndham, who teaches English in Canada but was born in Blackpool.

He’s about to launch Nod, a chilling sci-fi novel set in a world deprived of sleep for so long society is going into mass meltdown.

It’s published by award-winning independent publisher Bluemoosebooks, based at Hebden Bridge, run by Kevin Duffy, who specialises in finding the kind of authors the mainstream publishing industry wishes it had the guts to gamble on.

Adrian’s at Blackpool’s Waterstones for the Wordpool Literary Festival on November 8 from 10.30am to 11.30am – the first 20 customers will get a free copy of NOD – and then visits Blackpool and the Fylde College to discuss his book with students.

Adrian emigrated to Canada as a child but has revisited the resort time and again because of his family links here – and because Blackpool has grounded him too.

He said: “My maternal grandfather, Harold Shea, was a house decorator while my paternal grandmother, Beatrice Barnes, was a homemaker who died this spring at the age of 97.

“I valued my grandparents because of their strength of personality, their kindness, and, almost above all, their individual and unique senses of humour.

“There’s something about that– a hardy attitude and a no-nonsense one which has impacted my own personality and my own approach to writing significantly.

“I was able to find a receptive publisher with Bluemoose in part, at least, because this sort of ‘northern attitude’ shows through in my work.

“Even though my novel Nod is fairly serious and dark, there’s a fair amount of (dark) humour as well – and a hard-won sense of individualism which I relate directly back to my grandparents.

“Beyond this, I’ve always enjoyed my visits to Blackpool, my most recent one having been three years ago.

“I cruised the Golden Mile as a boy and I still look forward to the sights, sounds and smells whenever I come back. I’m very much looking forward to my visit next week.

“My only wish is that my grandmother could have been there.”

Best-selling author Lesley Pearse, author of The Promise, also knows the town well having worked in south Fylde, as a struggling single parent, for some years.

Lynne Pattinson, Blackpool’s arts development officer, says the success of the event has put the resort on the literary map.

“It grows with each year. We’ve been working in schools with Helen Wendy Cooper, author of the Vegetarian Vampire, and Simon Puttock, author of more than 50 books for children, whose most recent book The Baby that Roared has been shortlisted for a Roald Dahl award .”

Arts engagement officer Clancy Mason has helped organise a special Halloween event for this evening, a reading of supernatural work from 6pm ahead of the 6.30pm switch-on of the lights on behalf of the Dead Good Poets’ Society – who will be performing pieces from their new book, ‘Haunted Blackpool’ at the Winter Gardens.

‘Haunted Blackpool’ takes local legends and ghost stories and reimagines them as creative pieces of writing.

The stories were produced through creative writing workshops in Central Library but the contributors were encouraged to focus on the oral storytelling tradition of the supernatural in light of work being filmed for inclusion in the Illuminations.

Local artists Carlito Juanito and Rick Thompson worked with the writers to facilitate the transition from paper to projection.

Their efforts culminated in the form of two ghostly mannequins, with the faces of the Dead Good Poets, who regaled passers-by with their scary stories among crumbling gravestones and rusting iron fences in the display.

Blackpool’s Aunty Social community group is also running Halloween Screen at the Winter Gardens tonight from 7.30pm to 11pm, showing vintage Horrors Nosferatu (1922) and Frankenstein (1931), followed by a torch-lit ghost walk in the Winter Gardens.

Resort residents can also get involved by contributing to the Blackpool Archive their thoughts and feelings about living in the town on a very specific day – today.

All the diaries will be kept in the Local History Archive in Blackpool Central Library to provide an insight into the lives of local people for future generations.

Diaries have to be handed in at any local library by November 14, and there will be a launch event on November 15.

People are also being encouraged to tweet a photo at 31 minutes past every hour today as part of October’s 31 Days in Blackpool social network exhibition.

Tomorrow, Wordpool favourites Jacqueline Pilton and Louise Nulty are bringing their Lancashire-based drama Travels with my Bogart to Central Library.

Their mix of warm humour and pathos always draws in a good audience of all ages. It starts at 6.30pm,

And on Friday Wordpool opens the Culture Shops artist book FYCreatives. This features work from the 33 artists who took part in the art in empty shops programme between August 2010 and April 2012.

End to End, a new drama from all-female theatre company The Gramophones, is being shown at Blackpool Sixth Form College on Tuesday. The company will be working with theatre students earlier in the day.

Author talks include Lesley Pearse, Mandasue Heller and Kimberley Chambers, Eleanor Rees and Zoe Lambert, Dave Kirkwood (whose 3hundredand65 graphic novel for the teenage cancer trust has been a Twitter sensation).

l For more Wordpool 2012 news, see the blog, blackpoolwordpool.wordpress.com, go to Wordpool on Facebook or follow twitter.com.wordpoolfest. Wordpool runs from today until November 16.