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Nowt so strange as novelists

Nowt so strange as novelists

WARNING: Homeland spoiler alert!

Nicola Barker, Man Booker shortlisted for Darkmans in 2007 and longlisted for both Clear and The Yips, has been discussing some of the oddities of her daily routine as she publishes her latest novel, In the Approaches. For example she does yoga “while watching Australian soaps; there is no spiritual aspect to my yoga”. When she's writing “I wear my ear muffs at all times when I’m working so I’m insulated against the world.” And “I collect crucifixes. I’ve got about 30 – huge ones, and a tiny, tiny one. I even have a crucifix in a bottle.” There are also the ashes of her French bulldogs kept in urns to inspire her and a thesaurus with a photograph of the illusionist David Blaine in his glass box tucked inside. Life in the Barker household is every bit as strange, it seems, as some of the episodes in her novels.

For anyone unable to snaffle tickets for the RSC's stage productions of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies help is at hand. A little patience is required but filming is underway for the television adaptation of Wolf Hall, scheduled for screening later in the year. Damien Lewis plays Henry VIII and since his last role was as Sergeant Brody in Homeland, where he ended up being hanged, it will make a nice change for him to be ordering the executions rather than being on the receiving end of one. Mark Rylance is playing Thomas Cromwell, Jonathan Pryce is Cardinal Wolsey, Anton Lesser Sir Thomas More, and Claire Foy Anne Boleyn. Some photographs have emerged from the set with Lewis sporting a very fetching slashed leather doublet. Imagine the dry-cleaning bills though – it will never catch on.

Next weekend, June 20th-22nd, sees the London Short Story Festival. The organisers have noted that short-story writers have scooped some of the biggest literary prizes of late, including of course, Lydia Davies for the Man Booker International Prize and Alison Munro the Nobel. Among those taking part at the festival are Alison Moore (MB shortlisted 2012) and A.L. Kennedy (a judge in 1996).

Spare a thought for the bookseller Foyles. If you have moved house you will know that packing up your book collection is a time-consuming and daunting task – paperbacks all together? Hardbacks by author or theme? – So imagine relocating 500,000 books to four miles of shelves. That's what Foyles had to do to get everything ready for the opening of their new Charing Cross Road premises – Hilary Mantel figuratively smashed the bottle of champagne on its bows to declare it up and running. If you want to know just what levels of military planning were required, this time-lapse video gives some idea. The opening festival runs until 5th July.

Lydia Barker (photographer Tony Davis)