Blog – Francesca Simon to speak at the Marlborough Literature Festival

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

It’s exciting news that the highly successful author, Francesca Simon, is to come to Marlborough to speak at the Town Hall on Sunday, 1 October about her foray into the world of Norse mythology. Francesca is famous for the Horrid Henry books that have struck a chord with young readers. The adventures of Henry who combined a street-savvy attitude with charm are popular with children who are reading stories for the first time. They are exciting and engaging stories and resonate with children everywhere. They have been made into cartoon films and recorded as stories.

These children who grew up with the adventures of Henry can now cut their teeth on the young adult or teenage stories that Francesca is now writing. The Monstrous Child is a story about Hel, Queen of the Norse underworld. The reader experiences the dark and sinister world of her life as told by her own teenage voice. It is a strange mix of the turbulent goings-on of Norse mythology with the perceptions of a young girl. These perceptions are typical of a teenager of a today – vulnerability, self-interest and survival. What a mix! Once again, Francesca Simon has achieved making the reader live the life of the main character by using words and feelings that are familiar and everyday to them.

Norse mythology is a subject popular in children’s books. In fact, all sagas have fascinated young readers – the Greek myths in particular. What is it about the adventures of aspiring heroes that appeals so much to children nowadays? Norse mythology is of a harsher kind and the gods are brutal. The world of Asgard, the vengeful one-eyed King of the Gods, Odin; Tyr; Jotunheim; Loki. This land of myths is populated by wolves, ravens and giantesses.

Francesca Simon’s story, The Monstrous Child is in the same genre as The Sleeping Army and The Lost Gods. Other authors such as Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, Joanne Harris and Diana Wynne Jones have also delved into Norse mythology to provide wonderful children’s stories.

2017 is the 20th anniversary of World Book Day. Francesca Simon was one of the authors, with her book, The Monstrous Child, to promote the day. It is particularly good that Francesca Simon has agreed to talk at the Literature Festival this year as it is an interesting departure to appeal to teenage or young adult readers. Those aged 11 or over will find it a fascinating talk, listening to an experienced and successful writer describe how she pulls the threads of a story together. Her talk will balance the other children’s events taking place this year, such as the Primary School talks, the Under 8’s and Under 5’s story telling events and the Big Schools Read. Watch out for an eye-catching ‘happening’ on the first day of the Festival involving many of our local school children…!

Louise Tinker, Marlborough LitFest Committee Member