Steve Camden – Interview
Tue 27 Aug 2019
Ahead of his first trip to Exeter Library to present StoryTalks, a new series of events with some of the industry’s best storytellers, we caught up with spoken-word artist, novelist, playwright and screenwriter Polarbear to give you an exclusive on what to expect at these unique events.
Have you been to Exeter Library before?
I’ve not been to Exeter Library before no, I’ve been to schools in Exeter. I always feel like I know the city when I arrive, but I’ve never made it to the library which is a shame. I’m loving that these events are happening in the library. I love libraries, I’m a huge fan. It is is exactly the right place for something like this, a space within the community that isn’t restricted or restrictive, it’s an open and creative environment.
I used libraries a lot as a child, it was a haven. I used to love being there, just being in the space and surrounded by stories. I don’t think I’d ever met someone who really loved their job until I met a librarian. They are such great places, you can trust a library. You can rely on it.
We’ve heard that your approach to these events will be a bit different to normal author events, can you tell us more?
Yeah for me, these things are often about people talking about a specific book or project, they can be seen as a bit of an opportunity to market something. There’s nothing wrong with that and I’ve done lots of these events. But I want to get to know about the processes that go into making these things, these stories. I want to know how other people go about creating these worlds.
In the first event, with Kevin and Jenny who have both inspired me, I know we will have a great and honest discussion. Jenny is a friend of mine and I’ve been in touch with Kevon too. They know I want to understand more about why they do what they do, the processes, whether their approach has changed over time. I want to bring the audience closer to these things, let them see what’s behind the scenes. I really want to delve into the daily mechanics to have a grown-up dialogue about how we write and why we write.
You mention you and Jenny are friends, do you often talk about these things together or will this be a new kind of conversation?
I think we normally talk about our ideas, and our projects or books that we’re working on, but not about how we make them a reality. You kind of feel you don’t need to I guess, when you’re talking to someone who does the same as you. So this is really exciting that we might find out things about each other that we didn’t already know.
I think this event will be more conversational than traditional author talks. I want to understand how their brains work and figure out what they do when they’re working on a project, and what they try not to do, and how many mistakes they make. We all make mistakes and I think it’s important that we can talk about them.
When I was younger, I used to think that books just appeared. I used to see them in libraries or in shops and there they were. Magic. But now, I’m interested in breaking down barriers, so everyone, anyone, can understand how to write and tell stories. So that everyone feels they are allowed to write. Anyone can try and we should talk about how we do it so the process is more opened for people to understand and share.
So will each of the StoryTalk events be similar in style? Will you have the same questions for each guest?
I hope that at each event we will be able to just follow the conversations and I’ll be able to navigate my way through as we move onto different topics. I like the idea that as a series of three events, the discussion will probably evolve as we’ll learn new things about different people’s processes each time. I’ve got some questions and ideas but I like a bit of a ‘what if’ moment so I wont be sticking to scripts, it will be more conversational so who knows where we’ll end up.
Because each of the guests are different, will have different styles and different disciplines, I think it will be really varied. I know I need the different disciplines to help fuel my writing but I’m interested to know whether being an ‘author’ or other form of storyteller restricts people or helps them.
Who would you like to see in the audience for this event?
I work a lot with young people and I always get excited to see young people at these things – but I would love to see a diverse audience. I always think it’s special people who have never had the chance to experience an event like this before are in the audience because you can see the power it can have to change and inspire them. I love seeing different generations of the same family at events and to see them leaving them together talking about what they’ve heard.
I love the idea of these events being a spark or a tool for people to start writing or for those who are already writing to have the confidence to share and talk about it with others. I’d like everyone and anyone to be there and I want to hear people’s thoughts on what we’re discussing too, and hope that each of these events will evolve so if people want more or less of something we can change as we go.