There must have been something in the air, as both sessions, featuring very different writers, focused heavily on the collision of fantasy and reality.
Confidences and performance aren't mutually exclusive, but the removal of Patrick Ness and Matt Haig from the main theatre into a smaller room worked best for them and the audience, as we were treated to the personal reflections a large auditorium sometimes inhibit.
Both of their new novels begin with fantasy – Ness, basing his tale, The Crane Wife, on a Japanese myth about an injured crane rescued by a sailmaker, and Haig's, The Humans, about an alien who arrives on earth. Ness said he wanted to challenge the idea that a realist novel is better than a fantastical one, while Haig confided that he had been scared to write this book, it had come to him many years ago when he had been ill with anxiety and depression and feeling alienated, and he'd feared for a long time it would be "dismissed as sci-fi".
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Christopher Brookmyre's first foray into sci-fi with his futuristic novel Bedlam was, he joked, possibly going to place him even lower down the scale than crime fiction, but both he and Jake Arnott, whose latest book, The House of Rumour, brings together, among other bizarre things, Ian Fleming and Aleister Crowley, agreed "fantasy is important, it's what we dream".
Both read with gusto and were first-rate entertainment, but there were few confidences here, as there had been with Ness and Haig. Perhaps that is because the latter two so intriguingly linked the fantastical with the personal.