Matt Haig, Rowan Coleman, Elizabeth Buchan & Fanny Blake
As an avid book-lover it can be so easy to forget that reading isn't an enjoyable or easy pastime for everyone. For a variety of reasons it can in fact be a struggle for people; those that have never learned how to read, or suffer from dyslexia, or for health reasons are unable to focus on any one book for a lengthy period, to name but a few. And this is where Quick Reads can provide a great alternative. I attended the 10th year anniversary event of this initiative at Foyles last week, hosted by Cathy Rentzenbrink, with special guests Veronica Henry, Fanny Blake, Elizabeth Buchan, Rowan Coleman and Matt Haig, which has made me appreciate the wonderful Quick Reads even more so than I did before.
As the Project Director for Quick Reads, Cathy Rentzenbrink was the host for the evening and she did a quick interview with each of the other authors in attendance before they all read from their short stories, which appear in the special 10th anniversary Quick Reads book. Each of the authors shared their story about why Quick Reads is important to them, from Rowan Coleman revealing that she has dyslexia and for years in school this meant that she was made to feel that she wasn't smart enough, to Matt Haig talking about suffering from mental health issues and only being able to focus on shorter and simpler books during that time.
It was an honest, insightful and inspirational evening, which has really made me understand much more about how important it is to have an incredible charity such as Quick Reads helping adults discover the joy and healing power of reading. Each of the authors on that stage was fantastic in sharing their own stories and inspirations for people who may face similar obstacles, and I feel it is encouraging to know that such successful writers might have gone through something similar like you and me.
There were some great audience questions too, such as whether there would be a second list of Quick Reads in a year (Cathy said they'd love to but it takes a lot of time and effort from everyone involved and there isn't the demand for it just yet) through to how the authors approach their writing. While some plot-and-plan their book from the start, others have to see where the story takes them. Rowan Coleman even said that she doesn't know the beginning of her novels until she has written the end.
There were some fabulous, very quotable, moments at the event and I wanted to share a few of them with you all below. May they make you feel inspired to read and write, or simply put a smile on your face:
"Reading changes the way people feel about themselves" – Cathy Rentzenbrink
"Non-fiction is fiction in waiting" – Matt Haig commented on some of the misconception between the difference of reading non-fiction books and fiction books.
"The book is like canapés, starters, amuche-bouches; you don't always want a full meal, and a short story is a satisfying medium" – Veronica Henry explained the appeal of the 10th anniversary Quick Reads book filled with short stories, which she edited.
"It is quite easy to be complicated, there are a lot of books that should be short stories" – Matt Haig
"Within a book is a world to capture and rapture" – Fanny Blake
"I now have two million words in print, mostly in the right order" – Rowan Coleman shares this inspirational message with children when she visits schools, to highlight that being dyslectic shouldn't stop anyone from writing and reading. She has had to learn to become friends with dyslexia and while she said it is an ongoing struggle it certainly hasn't stopped her from writing some incredible (my word, not hers) novels.
Fanny Blake, Veronica Henry & Cathy Rentzenbrink