Author Event: Andy Miller and Paul Ewen in Conversation

Last week was Books are my Bag week and bookshops seemed to be full of special events. I knew I wanted to go to all of them, but I also knew that my time was limited and that week at work would be insanely busy. To top all that off, I ended up being ill, so of all the events going on, I only made to it one.

That one was: Books Are My Bag Event- Andy Miller and Paul Ewen in Conversation

I read Andy Miller’s book A Year of Reading Dangerously earlier this year, and you can find my review of that here. It was a book I really enjoyed (of course I did, it’s a book about books) so for me, this was the deciding factor of which event to go to.

Paul Ewen was a bit of a wild card. I had not heard of him before this event although I had seen his book in shops (which, on first glance and further glances, I assumed to be written by his pseudonym – Francis Plug, despite having Ewen’s name on the cover). I don’t like to go to author events without having read their books first, however, and so I ventured out to buy Francis Plug: How to be a Public Author and devoured it in pretty much a day.

Background over, onto the event.

Given the amount of Books are My Bag events, I was expecting a small turn out, however, when I first arrived, I feared that I might be the only person who had a ticket. Soon after that, more people turned up and I felt slightly more at ease. The audience was still fairly small, but it made the discussion more like a conversation than a presentation.

Miller and Ewen were so contrasting in character, appearance and whole demeanour that it was just fascinating to watch them side by side, never mind what they were saying. Miller exuded confidence, sitting back relaxed in his chair, voice calm and collected. Ewen, on the other hand, was much more on my level. It was clear he was nervous and not as comfortable in the spotlight – something I would be able to relate to if I was ever in his shoes.

What’s more, if I had not been told their names at the beginning, I would have been able to tell who had written each book by what I saw alone.I did, however, spent much of the evening convinced Ewen’s name was actually Francis, because that’s what I had thought when I first saw the cover.

The talk itself was quite interesting. Each gave a background to their book – reading passages and going off on a number of ‘footnotes’. With each book being based on their authors own experiences (more so Miller’s than Ewen’s), this made for a lot of entertaining anecdotes and debate. The audience was in fits of laughter a number of times – especially in Miller’s reading of the three times he met Douglas Adams. As Ewen’s book was focused on Man Booker prize winners, he also brought in his two favourite winning books and talked about them.

Following this there were a number of questions, both from the organisers and the audience. One in particular prompted great debate. This question was whether they believed there was a book for everyone, that everyone had potential to be a reader. The authors were divided – Miller was firmly against this, stating that, like sports, some people just weren’t cut out to read. Ewen, on the other hand, disagreed, stating that anyone had the potential to become a reader, depending on how that potential was nurtured. I, for one, agree with Ewen.

Then came the one part of the evening which I found lacking. On arrival at the event, one came face to face with a stack of books between the authors, with the intention of the two authors discussing them. Unfortunately, these were books that had been released that day. Neither author had read them all; those that one had read had not been read by the other. This made for a rather stunted discussion.

Despite that, it was a really enjoyable evening and really made up for a day spent ill in bed. I came out of it with two great, signed books and really glad that I had forced myself out that evening.

I would really recommend reading either of these author’s books, especially if you’re someone who loves books and reading.

A Year of Reading Dangerously:

Francis Plug – How to be a Public Author:


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