Brilliant debut novelists at this year’s LitFest

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

We are pleased to introduce you to Adelle Stripe and Mick Kitson, brilliant debut novelists who will be joining us at Marlborough LitFest this year.

Both extremely talented authors with very different stories to tell, Adelle Stripe’s book, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, could be described as a mix of biography and fiction. She writes about the life of Andrea Dunbar, a gifted playwright who grew up on the Buttershaw estate in Bradford, known for the plays, The Arbor and Rita, Sue and Bob Too. Dunbar’s plays candidly captured 1980s austerity, the truth of which was something that she said was very important to her, “you write what’s said, you don’t lie”.

Stripe wanted to capture Andrea’s personality in her writing, telling her audience at a reading that she wanted to include “lots of dialogue, lots of sharp scenes.” Stripe was keen to capture her audience with her writing, keeping the novel interesting and fast-paced, joking that she set out to write “the kind of novel that you could take to the pub and read over three pints; or two, depending on how fast you are at drinking.”

Adelle Stripe – author of Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile

Stripe made the decision to re-imagine Andrea’s life, combining the facts of Dunbar’s experiences with fictional characters, in order to make Andrea’s story come to life in a way that is often neglected in a biography. Throughout her life Dunbar made notes and diaries, but she burned them after Ryan Clark made the film version of Rita, Sue and Bob Too and changed the ending. Stripe says that the burned notes were the inspiration for her book and she wanted to re-imagine the contents of those diaries within her novel.

Mick Kitson’s inspiration for his debut novel came from a different source. He was a teacher and former journalist who wanted to write something that he would enjoy teaching. The novel, Sal, follows the story of 13-year-old Sal and her 10-year-old sister, Peppa, as they run from their past in the hope of a better future. The girls have a good reason to run: Sal has killed their mother’s boyfriend. For years, Robert was sexually abusing Sal and, when she realised that she would not be able to protect her younger sister from him, Sal plans their escape. She watches YouTube videos to learn how to navigate in the wilderness, make a fire and find shelter.

Mick Kitson author of Sal – credit Alan McCredie

Kitson’s narrative perfectly captures Sal’s strong and determined nature as well as showing her softer side and the love that she has for her sister, even if she does not like to admit that she has emotions and vulnerabilities.

A brilliant story about family and the extremes that people will go to in order to protect the ones that they love, Sal follows the close bond of sisters and shows what they are capable of doing in order to survive.

We are delighted to have Mick Kitson and Adelle Stripe at Marlborough LitFest and we hope that you enjoy their debut novels just as much as we do.

Anna Wilkinson