Ex Libris Live has perfected the recipe for a great game and live event: four guest writers, one presenter, one timekeeper. One writer reads the title and synopsis of a novel (the guests take it in turns to be the reader), then the other three invent either the first or the last line for said novel. The reader then reads out all three inventions along with the correct answer and the other writers must try to identify the original. Points are scored by the three writers for identifying the real first or last line, having one's own invented line guessed by another writer, or by the reader if no one guesses correctly.
The format is clever because while the three authors write their answers, the host David Freeman can chat to that round's reader about their work or recent projects. In Monday night's event, we had Jasper Fforde, Lisa Dickenson, Kim Newman and Maureen Freely: a mixed group of authors with very different writing styles and backgrounds, which made for varied and interesting discussions with our host David. Maureen Freely spoke about her involvement with a project called 'English Pen' which campaigns and works to defend writers whose human right to freedom of expression is in danger, Jasper Fforde spoke about his book Shades of Grey and the upcoming TV adaptation of his novel The Last Dragonslayer (which will be broadcast on Boxing Day), Kim Newman talked about his love of horror and his latest novel Angels of Music, an adaptation of the Phantom of the Opera story, and Lisa Dickenson spoke about her novel Mistletoe on 34th Street, the romantic comedy genre, and how she got into writing.
It was a festive-themed event this time, as the podcast itself will be released on Christmas Eve. The spirit of good cheer was felt throughout the evening; Fforde played up to this with his hand-written 'ooh' and 'aah' cue cards for the audience, to which we obediently oohed and aahed and it made everyone laugh. The game lends itself to a funny, informative and warm evening of discussion and competition.
In terms of the actual game, I won't give away who won since I would advise you to listen to the podcast when it is released. I will say however that the contestant performed really well and the win was very well deserved. Of course the game itself is not really so important; the whole thing is a vehicle for some interesting people to chat about books and literature. And it works very well indeed.
This episode of Ex Libris will be broadcast on the 24th Dec, you can find it on their website. They haven't released their 2017 dates yet, but keep an eye out for when they do as I'd recommend it heartily as a lovely evening activity and a bargain at only a fiver!