Coffee with Helen Stevenson, Competition Judge

Helen Stevenson - Wells Festival of Literature

Your perfect cuppa is waiting for you to enjoy. Where would you enjoy it most?
I love Caffè Nero in Wells, just because I often go there with my family. We shop separately, then meet up and read books. I associate it with happy, relaxed times, where everyone’s wandered off on their own and then come together at the end. There’s lots of space, which I like.

Which book would you read while enjoying it?
Whatever I’m reading at the moment is usually my favourite book. If something doesn’t feel worth reading I won’t even start it. I read a lot of obscure books connected with what I’m writing. I tend to get involved in reading huge books which I won’t let go of till I’ve finished. Last time I went to Caffè Nero I was reading Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Our Festival aims to encourage a love of words… what’s your favourite word? Or phrase? If I had to sit down to test a typewriter and type one sentence it would probably be ‘lo, the level lake, and the long glories of the winter moon.’ I think my mother used to say it quite often!

And your least favourite?
Anything techno-jargonny or pseudo-slick. I really think words should be handled reverently and well, not made to perform silly tricks to make the owner of them look good! I get quite hot and bothered about the world ‘relatable’, as in ‘Hamlet is a relatable character’. And ‘get a life’, though maybe no one says that any more.

What words of wisdom would you pass on to a young person?
My children say these are my three:
   Always tie your shoelaces before you get on an escalator.
Tuck your scarf in before you get out of a taxi (don’t do an Isadora Duncan)
Candles and sleeping bags don’t mix.

Otherwise, the usual: don’t worry about missing the boat, there’ll be other boats. Read. Walk. Look after your real friendships. Value silence. Turn off your phone. I could go on and on, actually….!

Is there a phrase from a much loved book that made a special impact / continues to resonate?
‘The leaden circles dissolved in the air’. (Mrs Dalloway)

Wells Festival of Literature

© Wells Festival of Literature 2018 | Website design by Bitten Spider

Menu - Wells Festival of Literature