All set to release Il-Qtates ta’ max-Xatt, (The Cats by the Shore) another picture book in collaboration with Lisa Falzon, well renowned author Clare Azzopardi speaks to Clifford Jo Żahra about The Malta Book Festival, its past editions and what to expect this year.
How were your first visits to the Malta Book Fair like?
I don’t have magical memories of the Malta Book Fair. The hall is what it is. I remember tables and tables of books. I remember going there with my parents and also being taken there on a school trip.
How different is The Malta Book Festival now?
Well, for starters, the name has changed. It is a festival now and not a book fair. But what’s in a name? It’s the same hall. And the magic is still not there. The bookstands could be better and some booksellers could put more into it. Some of them insist on plying their wares the bazaar way. But of course, that’s not the case for everyone, and there is also one thing that has changed, and it is an important one: the Malta Book Festival now features an international selection of authors, as well as public debates on some very topical issues; hats off to the National Book Council for such initiatives during the festival ̶ there you are, I have called it a festival myself now!
You’re one of the most well renowned local authors. But what’s your role at The Malta Book Festival this year?
I’m giving many readings. I speak to parents and teachers, I listen to what children have to say and I gladly sign their books. This year I’ve got about 6 readings in all, ranging from books I’ve translated in the past year, to new picture books I wrote in collaboration with Lisa Falzon.
Jake Cassar, Ġużeppina, Mingu and the De Molizz Brothers. Who’s your favourite among them and why?
Do I really have to commit myself? Don’t you know that if I pick up Jake Cassar as my favourite, Saver De Molizz would haunt me night after night? How can I choose? Jake is the bravest, Saver the nastiest, Ġużeppina is messy and Mingu is the unlucky one. But now there are new ones too. There are some 20 cats in my new book and quite a few amazing characters in my forthcoming series about witches and tinsmiths. To mention just a few: Is-Sħaħar ta’ Petut, Rebus Totall and Pinzett, not to mention Nanna Kanna. Wouldn’t you want to read all about them?
Whoever follows you on social media knows that you’ve been mentioning cats for quite sometime now. What are we to expect from you at this edition of The Malta Book Festival?
Il-Qtates ta’ max-Xatt is my new book in collaboration with illustrator Lisa Falzon, published by Merlin Publishers. I could have called it Sliema Cats, I suppose, but it’s a book about the love for animals and the elderly. It’s a book about loss and hope. After the huge success with Mingu, I hope that this one will follow suit.
One reason why no one should miss this edition of The Malta Book Festival.
There are readings and meetings, films and debates, authors and talkers, imaginary realms, books you can read and books to create; and all this comes together just once a year.
Organised by the National Book Council, the 2016 edition of The Malta Book Festival will be taking place at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, in Valletta, from November 9th to November 13th. Visit www.ktieb.org.mt for further details.
© 2016 – VIDA Magazine – Clifford Jo Żahra