Tag Archives: Dorothy Hakim

Dorothy Hakim reviews the Meg Rosoff event

9 May

The words ‘fate’ and ‘hilarious’ sum up author Meg Rosoff completely. Last week I was lucky enough to hear her talk at the Hexham Book Festival and have never once regretted it since. Meg told us about fate and how it can change your life. She talked about it with humour and in such a way that, as I looked around the theatre, every single pair of eyes was focused on her. ‘It was fate’, she told us, that found her a lovely husband, stopped her becoming a screenwriter, didn’t let her publish a pony book with sex in it and made her famous. ‘It is fate’ that affects our lives every day whether we notice it or not, she said. Yet another reason we should stop, look and listen before we cross the road!: you never know what fate is going to do to your life. Those of you who have read Meg’s book ‘Just in Case’ will know what I mean when I say that she is obsessed with fate. I will let her off because she is such a fabulous writer. And I wish her the best of luck for the film of ‘How I Live Now’. Good luck Meg!

Meg Rosoff appeared at the Queen’s Hall, Hexham at 10.30am and 1.30pm, Monday 30th April as part of the 2012 Hexham Book Festival. For more information about the forthcoming film, you may like to visit Meg’s own website.

Megan Ashford and Dorothy Hakim interview Simon Scarrow (part 1)

4 May

Q. Who or what inspired your character Marcus from your ‘Gladiator’ series?

A. Marcus is pretty straightforward really: he is my own son Nicholas. By some uncanny coincidence when it came to picking someone to shoot for the cover design they picked someone who looked exactly like him, which is bizarre.  Nicholas is about the same sort of age – or at least he was when I started writing the book.  I basically had a model.

Q.  How did it feel when your first book got published?

A. Brilliant!  Because before I got anything published I used to have these long fantasies about going into a bookshop and seeing my book on the shelf: I would die a happy man if I only ever had one book published.  So it was magic when that actually happened.  When I rang my father to tell him I had got a publishing deal it was the only time I had heard him cry.  It was a lovely occasion all round. It has become slightly different since then because once you have had your first book published you often have a second, a third… Now I am up to seventeen! I miss that kind of sense of achievement.

Q.  Do you have a really particular interest in history then?

A. Yes. History is where all the good stories are. That’s why it’s called his – story!

Q. Isn’t that a bit sexist?!

A. (Laughs).  When I was teaching I used to say it was unfair and ask whatever happened to her – story.  I used to tell my students how history is always kind of represented from a male point of view primarily.

When I was young I was lucky enough to be taken to a lot of places by my parents.  I didn’t realise at the time how lucky I was.  When I was about four or five I remember being taken to see the Colosseum in Rome and thinking ‘stones, boring stones!’  Eventually you realise that there is slightly more to it than that.  Then I found it impossible to travel anywhere in the Mediterranean and not get diverted by ruins or temples and the like.  History is not just an interest.  It’s important to know history because we need to know where we have come from and we need to know where we are headed. .

Q. Did you research to write your ‘Gladiator’ series and, if so, did you find anything interesting or bizarre?

A.  Yes, I did a lot of research.   Obviously I needed to know about gladiators.  I also needed to know about trade routes, the archaeology of the gladiator schools and what was going on in Ancient Rome at the time.  I think that’s why the second book was very easy to write as it was set in the year that Julius Caesar was consul and Rome was run by gangs who were fighting!  There was plenty of good material to work with.

There was one thing you could say was a bit odd.  I had always assumed that gladiators where men.  But there was a body dug up in York two years ago of a 16-year-old gladiator who had a deformed right arm from all the training.  Due to the nature of this find and its abnormality they were able to work out how old this gladiator would have been when he started training.  The answer was six!

Q. Why did you give up teaching to write?

A.  Teaching is the best job I have ever done, and that includes writing.  But if you have an ambition to write like I do then you don’t really get any choice in that!  I ended up having to push my writing ambition to the front and my teaching to the back. If I am, say, writing two books at a time it becomes impossible to stay a good teacher and write.  If things had worked out differently I would have been quite happy to go back and do some teaching because the opportunity to do something good, to improve someone else’s life is really what the payment is.  It means a huge amount to any teacher if in any way they have helped to improve someone’s life chances.

Simon Scarrow appeared at the Queen’s Hall, Hexham on Saturday 28th April as part of the 2012 Hexham Book Festival.

Dorothy Hakim reviews Simon Scarrow’s ‘Street Fighter’

19 Apr

Having just read Simon Scarrow’s book ‘Street Fighter’ I must say I really enjoyed it.  ‘Street Fighter’ is part of the ‘Gladiator’ series and is the sequel to ‘Fight for Freedom’.  It is a fast-paced story full of the adventures of Marcus – a slave in Rome in the year 61BC.  Marcus was trained as a gladiator and has now been sold to Julius Caesar to work as a bodyguard for his young niece, Portia.  Caesar is a consul in the senate and is trying to win a political war against his arch-enemy, another consul named Cato.  Yet Cato is intent on winning and he takes his side of the argument too far and it turns to war – war where the streets are plagued by vicious gang war attacks.  Attacks that are organised by the two rival consuls.  Attacks on Caesar’s life that only Marcus can stop…

Simon Scarrow is appearing at the Queen’s Hall, Hexham at 12:30 pm, Saturday 28th April as part of the 2012 Hexham Book Festival. He will also be making an appearance at the launch event for issue 3 of Cuckoo Quarterly (also at the Queen’s Hall, Hexham) at 3:00 pm on the 28th April. This event is free to attend but ticketed. Tickets for both events are available from the Hexham Book Festival website.