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There's more to Stratford than Shakespeare. As the town prepares for its annual literary festival we meet crime author Sophie Hannah who tells us about her novel The Other Half Lives.

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Theres more to Stratford than Shakespeare. As the town prepares for its annual literary festival we meet crime author Sophie Hannah who tells us about her novel The Other Half Lives, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Independent Booksellers Book of the Year Award. Sophie is hosting a crime and curry supper at the festival an event supported by Warwickshire Life.



Tell me about your crime and curry supper at the festival?



A crime and curry supper is basically just a regular literary supper, but with curry. I think a crime and curry night sounds more fun and relaxing than literary supper, which sounds a bit stiff and formal. I love festivals and all social occasions. I am a real extrovert, and I love to meet my readers at my book events.



When did you first begin writing?



I have always written, since childhood. It was my main hobby; what I did when I was supposed to be doing schoolwork, then college work, then university work, then secretarial work.



Why did you turn to writing crime?



I have always been a crime and mystery fiction addict. I became hooked first on Enid Blyton, then Agatha Christie, then Ruth Rendell, and I still read more crime fiction than anything else. So I wanted to write the kind of books I knew I'd love to read.



Who do you read now?



I love Ruth Rendell, Nicci French, Tana French, Douglas Kennedy, Robert Goddard, Val McDermid. They are all brilliant storytellers who care about the story above all else.



Which is your favourite book that you have written?



Lasting Damage, the latest one, is my favourite at the moment. It's about a woman who sees a dead body lying face down in a pool of blood on a virtual tour of a house, on a property website. When she calls her husband to look, the body has disappeared from the tour and no one believes her. I had the idea because I'm obsessed with property websites and spend a lot of time looking at the floor plans of houses I'm never going to buy.



Where does your inspiration come from?



I usually write about my current obsession, whatever it might be. The emotions in the book are usually things I've felt and experienced, though all murders in my novels are of course fictional!



What is your advice to wannabe authors?



Don't be too much of a perfectionist when you're writing your first draft. It's much easier to write a flawed book and perfect it later than it is to write a perfect book first time round.



The Stratford Literary Festival runs from 25th April to 2nd May, with Sophies crime and curry evening taking place on the 29th April. Other well known faces appearing at the festival include author Katie Fforde, Radio 2 DJ Mark Radcliffe, actor Larry Lamb (EastEnders and Gavin and Stacey) and journalist John Humphrys.



Tel: 01789 207100



www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk

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