Michael Sheen, Philip Pullman and Caitlin Moran join a star-studded lineup at #PenguinVoices
A host of authors and 1,200 Penguin Random House UK colleagues braved the snow to enjoy Penguin Random House Presents 2018 at the London Palladium yesterday (1 March), celebrating this year's theme of Voices.
Voices can make us laugh or cry. They can shock, enrage or comfort. Throughout the three-hour event, we heard a chorus of the exciting voices shaping our future at Penguin Random House.
Here are just an initial seven of our highlights - and after reading, make sure to look at penguin.co.uk's Must Reads of 2018, featuring a fantastic selection of some of the essential reads mentioned on stage.
Michael Sheen & Philip Pullman
Closing the show was an exclusive conversation between award-winning actor Michael Sheen and much-loved His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman. Michael narrated the audiobook of Philip's latest novel La Belle Sauvage, the much-anticipated return to the world of Lyra and Oxford, which won 2017's Waterstones Book of the Year. Michael himself was nominated for Audiobook Narrator of the Year at last year's Audio Production Awards, with Slate.com calling his performance 'better than an army of actors'.
Caitlin Moran is back with her latest novel How to be Famous, her follow up to the bestselling How to Build a Girl - and was on hand to join us on the sofa. As well as the new book, topics of conversation included how famous people have really big heads and bad sex at 17 ("You think it's maybe something you'll get used to - like whisky and olives").
Christie Watson & Edric Kennedy-Macfoy
Christie Watson is the Costa First-Novel Award-winning author of Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, Why Women Are Kings and Here I Stand. But before that, she was also a nurse for over twenty years, training at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story takes us through her astonishing account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness.
Speaking of the book, which is to be published in May, Christie said "I've always loved reading non-fiction by doctors, and there is a lot of it. But there has never been anything published from a nurse. Until now."
Likewise, Edric Kennedy-MacFoy is set to launch his debut non-fiction book Into the Fire: My Life as a London Firefighter - an account of his thirteen years as part of the London Fire Brigade. His remarkable story tells of the heroism of his team as they tackled major disasters such as Grenfell Tower and the Croydon tram derailment, to the eclectically comic experiences of saving marooned swans and freeing toes stuck in bathplugs.
Jamie Oliver, Clare Balding and Michael Palin
Another year, another fantastic Jamie book. After the rip-roaring success of 5 Ingredients (2017's best selling book), Jamie is returning to Italian food, with Jamie Cooks Italy, a celebration of the joy of food, featuring 140 recipes in Jamie's signature easy-to-follow style. Taking to a star-studded orange couch, alongside fellow familiar voices Clare Balding (discussing The Horse who Learned to Dance) and Michael Palin (preveiwing Erebus), Jamie told us of how the book was strongly influenced by his Italian cooking heroes, Antonio Carluccio and his mentor Gennaro Contaldo.
Jay Bernard & Charlene Allcott
We're always looking to discover new voices - and in Jay Bernard and Charlene Allcott, we heard some fantastic examples of new, exciting talent.
Poet Jay's debut collection Surge, described as a "queer exploration of the Black British archive", traces a line between two events: the New Cross Massacre of 1981, in which 13 young black people were killed in a house fire, and the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. The collection will be released with Chatto & Windus in 2019, with the crowd mesmerised by a special performance, delivered straight from the Royal Box.
Charlene Allcott preceeded Jay with a powerful speech detailing her journey to becoming a published author via the WriteNow programme. Her debut novel, The Reinvention of Martha Ross, a raw, honest and hilarious re-coming of age story about call-centre worker Martha, who must come to terms with the breakdown of her marriage and get her life back on track, is due for publication this summer.
Lee Child is, in every sense, a publishing superstar. Having amassed over 100 million sales of his iconic Jack Reacher series, he took to the Palladium stage to discuss the upcoming Past Tense. Lee discussed his writing process, his close relationship to his publishing team at Transworld and how current affairs have influenced the new book.
Tom Fletcher & Giovanna Fletcher
And speaking of publishing superstars - here's two more. McFly hitmaker, YouTube star and The Christmasaurus author Tom has teamed up with wife Giovanna, author of Some Kind of Wonderful and Always With Love for Eve of Man - their first collaborative novel. Speaking about the book together for the first time, we were given a sneak peek of the plot and heard about the collaborative writing process - particularly in regards to what it's like writing with your other half.
Watch: Our highlights
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