Returning for the 2022 Marlborough LitFest is its annual Big Town Read event, which this year is the thriller, The Man on Hackpen Hill, by local author, JS Monroe (whose real name is Jon Stock). Stock will be appearing at LitFest on Sunday 2 October at 5.30pm in Marlborough Town Hall.
Every year Marlborough LitFest, with the support of Wiltshire Libraries, chooses a title which is suggested for local book groups and individuals to read as LitFest’s Big Town Read, ahead of the author appearing at the festival in the autumn. This event has proved popular with audiences – particularly local book groups – who enjoy the chance to have a Q&A session with the author during the festival. Copies of the book are available to order from Marlborough Library over the summer.
This year’s choice, The Man on Hackpen Hill, is the third JS Monroe thriller to feature DI Silas Hart, fictional head of Swindon CID. From Hackpen Hill’s deadly crop circle to the shadowy figures of Porton Down, local name-checking adds to the fun of this fast-paced and tense page turner. The Independent called it ‘An impressive, twisty tale’; the Daily Mail called it ‘impeccably researched… An unusual mystery told with exceptional skill’.
Stock worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi and was Weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph before becoming a full-time writer. He is also the author of five spy thrillers, one of which, Dead Spy Running, was optioned by Warner Bros. He lives with his wife, fine art photographer Hilary Stock, in Great Bedwyn, a village that plays a prominent role in his books.
Previous Big Town Read authors have included Laline Paull, Sathnam Sanghera, Jackie Kay, Rachel Joyce, Raynor Winn and Rosamund Lupton.
Stock says: “I’m thrilled and honoured that The Man on Hackpen Hill has been chosen as this year’s LitFest Big Town Read. I draw enormous inspiration from the beautiful landscape we live in and I hope people enjoy all the local references and settings.”
Genevieve Clarke, Chair of Marlborough LitFest, said: “This is the first time we’ve had a book set in Wiltshire as our Big Town Read. The Man on Hackpen Hill will get local readers seeing our familiar landmarks in a very different light.”
The deadline to sign up for the new Friends of Marlborough LitFest scheme is Friday 24 June, in order to take advantage of priority booking from 4 July (general booking opens on 14 July).
The annual LitFest Love Books competition has a deadline of Friday 1 July 2022 and entrants this year could win prizes of £300 and £100 in each age group category by explaining their choice of favourite book, poem or play.
The 2022 festival line-up so far includes: Pam Ayres, Clover Stroud, Kamila Shamsie and Benedict Allen, who will join the 2022 Golding Speaker, Ali Smith, as well as Patrick Gale, Max Hastings and children’s author Jacqueline Wilson during the festival weekend from 29 September – 2 October 2022. The full festival programme will be announced at the end of June. For more information, visit the website here.
LitFest would like to thank its sponsors for 2022: lead sponsor Sarah Raven, main event sponsor Hiscox Insurance, and event sponsors William Golding Limited, Robert Hiscox, Adam Matthew Digital, St Francis School, Marlborough College, Marlborough.news and Hamilton Trust, as well as our patron Sir Simon Russell Beale, and partners Katharine House Gallery, Haine & Smith Opticians, The White Horse Bookshop and Wiltshire Life for their continued support for the festival.