The 25th edition of Crossing Border was held the first weekend of November. Several venues in the center of the Hague were transformed into the Crossing Border stages and literary and music fans stopped by from all over the country. We were there as well and we’ll share some of our highlights of the author interviews during the two evenings!
Claire-Louise Bennett (author of Pond) was brazen and amazing. During the interview, she stated she was feeling a little cranky, but explained that she did have a great time in the afternoon at a museum where she drank a glass of red wine and ate a croque monsieur. She also said that she doesn’t watch TV because plot makes her nervous and laughed at a quote from the Guardian saying that her novel is a re-enchantment of the world because it was way too posh.
Persis Bekkering’s new book Een Heldenleven sounded really interesting. It’s about classical musicians touring in Italy, involves a lot of philosophy and literature and the book’s ending is set in Forever 21. The interviewer called this Hell on Earth and she carefully agreed. Een Heldenleven is out in Dutch in January.
Annelies Verbeke has an alter ego in her writing. In her latest collection of short stories called Hallelujah she turns that writer into a bear because she was feeling a little melancholic. Writing the story made her feel better. She also read one of her stories about a young woman working as the Pied Piper of Hameln, but she drinks too much and takes too many drugs and starts to harass the entire town. It was a very funny, very strange story.
Lesley Nneka Arimah loves using magical realism because you can’t show everything in realistic fiction. In one of her stories from her collection What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, a dead mother steps out from a photograph back into life. She uses this story to show that we think we’re better than we actually are, to show what we’d actually do if magical things like second chances were actually possible. She read part of ‘Second Chances’ and I’m very excited to read for myself how it ends.
Max Porter wrote Grief is the Thing with Feathers, which is about a young grieving family and a mythical crow who visits them. He admits he has an obsession with crows and watches a lot of Youtube videos about them. His favorites are crow snowboarding off a roof and crow figuring out this difficult puzzle. In the words of Max Porter, ‘They’re fucking weird’.
Mike McCormack used to listen to Scandinavian Black Metal while writing his novels – he gave a special shout-out to Burzum’s Filosofem – but with Solar Bones, he didn’t really listen to music that much. What he did do was write every morning with pen and paper according to two rules. It needed to have a rhythm and it needed to flow seamlessly from the piece he wrote the previous day. This produced 500 pages of seamless rubbish and prepared him for writing Solar Bones.
There were many more fun interviews, but we didn’t manage to see them all. We did get our books signed and are really looking forward to reading Solar Bones and to discuss it with our book club. We want to thank Crossing Border for organizing another fun edition of their festival and for giving us the opportunity to visit and write about it!
Pictures are taken by Crossing Border photographers: Wouter Vellekoop, Kamiel Scholten Fotografie & Hannah Aletta Photography