Ian McMillan: Why writing can be character-building

As a writer, I find the hardest thing to do is create characters who aren’t like me. Of course when I’m writing this column or writing poems then I can be the protagonist because, well, that’s what people expect, although of course the ‘I’ in the poem doesn’t necessarily have to be the poet themselves.

Book Cover Handout of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, published by HarperCollins. See PA Feature BOOK Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/HarperCollins. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature BOOK Reviews.

Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

There are some books whose narrator is so well-written, so human and instantly engaging, that they have you right from the first line.

Ian Rankin

The big read

Harrogate’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is inviting readers to help them celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus.

Adams on her way to defeating Maryan Salazar at the First Direct Arena last weekend. (James Hardisty).

Nicola Adams pulls no punches in sharing her life story

Nicola Adams is a two-time Olympic champion and British sporting hero. Now the Leeds-born boxer has written about her remarkable life and rise to the top. Chris Bond talked to her.

Fresh perspective

Fresh perspective

Leeds writer Clare Fisher is an exciting new voice in contemporary literature. With her debut novel out next month, she spoke to Yvette Huddleston.

Author Benjamin Myers' new novel is inspired by the Cragg Vale Coiners who in the 18th century were behind the biggest countefeiting scam the country had ever seen. Picture Tony Johnson.

Money at the root of evil for Yorkshire’s very own Robin Hood

Everyone knows Dick Turpin and more films have been made and books written about Robin Hood than most historical figures, but the name of David Hartley is little known outside of a few historians and a small corner of West Yorkshire.

The importance of books

The importance of books

I’m a big fan of book groups. They are sociable, literary, informative – and provide a convivial forum for lively discussion and debate. (There might also be a glass or two of wine involved...)

VERSATILE: Actor George Costigan whose debut novel The Single Soldier is out now.

French connection

He’s acted in some classy TV dramas and with his debut novel George Costigan proves he also knows how to tell a cracking story. Yvette Huddleston reports.

WRITE STUFF: Barbara Steel who has been manning the counter at The Grove Bookshop for 25 years where she has met writers such as Alan Bennett and American Bill Bryson.  PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Long shelf life for bookseller still turning over pages at 87

A West Yorkshire bookseller who counts Alan Bennett among her regular customers may be Britain’s oldest, but has no intention of turning over a new leaf.

Sheffield author Simon Beckett.

My Yorkshire: Author Simon Beckett on his favourite people and places

A Sheffielder born and bred, Simon Beckett is the author of the bestselling crime series featuring forensic anthropologist hero Dr David Hunter. The fifth Hunter story, The Restless Dead, is out now.

Sheffield's riverside areas are much improved since Orwell's day.

Matthew Flinders: Sheffield’s heartbeat and soul that forge an identity

There are some sounds in life that simply cannot be put into words. One of them is the sound I heard this morning as I ran along the canal in that very special part of Sheffield known as Attercliffe.

Opinion 1
NEW ADAPTION: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall opens at York Theatre Royal this week.Picture: Richard Davenport.

Independent spirit

Anne Brontë’s novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a classic of feminist literature. Deborah McAndrew tells Yvette Huddleston how she adapted it for the stage.

Influential figure: Leeds-born poet Tony Harrison at his parents graves in Holbeck cemetery at Beeston Hill, which inspired his famous poem V.

Tony Harrison – the Yorkshire poet with an ear for the heartbeat of language

Leeds-born poet Tony Harrison celebrates his 80th birthday this month and is returning to Yorkshire for a special reading to mark the occasion. Yvette Huddleston talked to him.

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Ron Butlin. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Foul and fair

Billionaires’ Banquet is a very Edinburgh novel, and not only because there is a lot about the weather, mostly foul – “penitential” was, I think, what Stevenson called it. Indeed the shade of Stevenson, updated and sent walking Edinburgh’s streets today, hangs over this novel as surely as a haar creeps in from the Forth. The celebrated duality is here, a duality contained within the heart and mind of every individual in the Scottish capital – Stevenson again – “Social inequality is nowhere more ostentatious than at Edinburgh”.

Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan: Catchy and Saatchi

I woke up the other day with the words of that old Penguin advert running through my head like water down a stream in the Dales after sudden rain. You remember the one: “P-p-pick up a Penguin”. Yes, that’s right; it’s in your head now, ringing like a bell and making you fancy a crunchy chocolate bar. Other chocolate bars are available, of course, but “P-p-pick up a Kit Kat” doesn’t work quite so well. And anyway, the phrase that sold you Kit Kats was “Have a break, have a Kit Kat”. Other chocolate bars are available, of course.

Elanor Dymott. Picture: Lucy Pope.

Blurred lines

Max is a famous photographer (portraits and photo-journalism), also a philanderer, selfish and quick-tempered. After his death in 2003, his daughters , Vinny and Ruthie, return to the family villa in Greece. For Ruthie, the younger sister, a photographer herself, it is her first visit since she cut off relations with her father 15 years ago, for reasons never explicitly spelled out. There is a family tragedy in the background. The girls’ French mother, Sophie, an opera singer who abandoned her career when Vinny was born, suffered a breakdown, originally provoked by Max’s infidelity, and became mad. Ruthie has inherited her instability. The girls were brought up principally – and lovingly – by their Aunt Beatrice, Max’s elder sister. We know from the first pages that the story will end badly; the question is how, in what form, and why?

Dents Garth, Roos, where it is believed Edith danced and sang for her husband in "a small wooded glade filled with hemlocks"

Hobbit-forming: book launch celebrates Tolkien links with Yorkshre

A BOOK launch of the first Tolkien Middle-earth title in a decade will take place in East Yorkshire – bringing the story home to its birthplace, exactly 100 years later.

Books 1
The next big thing

The next big thing

Bestselling author Paula Hawkins is launching Into the Water, the follow up to her hugely successful novel The Girl on the Train in Harrogate next month.

PLATHS'S GIFT: Poet Sylvia Plath, whose work as been somewhat overshadowed by her depression and suicide.

When two poets collide

This week came some news that has further fuelled the seemingly endless fascination with the tempestuous marriage between the poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

David Jones

David Jones’ locker: How do you tell a story like this?

In an essay on GK Chesterton, another Catholic convert, Graham Greene, wrote: “A man lives for seventy years: to make sense of this is a worse labour than reducing to order the record of a mere four years’ war. To simplify is essential.”

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