One of our highlights at this year’s festival is welcoming back Jasper Fforde who just released “Early Riser”.  Jasper’s new book is a return to quirky and absurdist humour, yet it shines with literary quality and sharp observational humour.

Our anti hero Charlie gets thrown in at the deep end of his new job of watching over humans hibernating. It is far more dangerous than he thought due to night walkers and dangerous dreams – a really thought-through fantasy world with many allegories to our actual real world.

The characters are hilarious oddities you will love and recognise as one of Fforde’s many signature accomplishments. Few authors can make absurdist bureaucrats and anti-heroes both so laugbable and likeable.

The plot provides a lot of suspense as Charlie tries to get to the bottom of the sleep disturbances and uncovers a larger secret, yet everything is interspersed with hugely entertaining situational humour.

As I said, on a deeper level the book stimulates many thoughts on the symbolism of sleep, sleep disruption, world order and reality.

In our session Fforde will meet the creator of a different type of fantasy world, more akin to his work in The Last Dragon Slayer. I look forward to chatting to two similar and yet so different writers in the same broad genre of fantasy.

Jasper Fforde And Jonathan Crayford

More on Early Rider and Jasper:

Every Winter, the human population hibernates.

During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness and devoid of human activity.

Well, not quite.

Your name is Charlie Worthing and it’s your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses.

You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact borne of the sleeping mind.

When the dreams start to kill people, it’s unsettling.

When you get the dreams too, it’s weird.

When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.

But teasing truth from Winter is never easy: You have to avoid the Villains and their penchant for murder, kidnapping and stamp collecting, ensure you aren’t eaten by Nightwalkers whose thirst for human flesh can only be satisfied by comfort food, and sidestep the increasingly less-than-mythical WinterVolk.

But so long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you’ll be fine.

Praise for Jasper Fforde:

‘Forget all the rules of time, space and reality; just sit back and enjoy the adventure’ Telegraph

‘True literary comic genius’ Sunday Express

‘Ingenious’ Terry Pratchett