Book in for some literary healing, as the Folkestone Book Festival gets under way with everything from humour to history and drama to discovery. Angela Cole met one of the headliners, Kent’s own Sandra Howard
She’s a former model of the 60s, who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, and is now Baroness of Hythe, married to former Folkestone and Hythe Conservative MP Sir Michael Howard. But despite having many a tale to tell from the world of celebrity – and she is, after all, one herself – Sandra Howard is embarrassed by the attention.
Quick to stress that the title of baroness is down to her husband, she says: “I am just Sandra Howard. I find it embarrassing so I don’t really use it.”
She is extremely fond of Folkestone and Hythe, and the couple divide their time between their homes in London and in Hythe. Which means appearing at the Folkestone Book Festival is perfect for the author, where she will be discussing her sixth novel, The Consequence of Love.
“It is wonderful to be in Folkestone,” she says. “It means so much to me.”
The Consequence of Love looks at lost loves, deceits and second chances.
“It is seven years since the other book and I always wanted to know what happened to the people in it,” she said. “It is me that decides, of course, but the characters become real in your mind and they take you down paths that you didn’t necessarily think they would. It is one of the wonderful things about fiction. I really was curious about what had happened to the characters – and one or two readers really wanted to know. I’m now working on the next one!”
Her fifth book, Tell the Girl, was fiction but drew heavily on her own experiences, and included a picture of her on the cover.
“It was quite cathartic. I have been in certain places at certain times,” she says, “but I left out the juicy bits. I’d have found that embarrassing.”
Her life back in the 60s included a heady mix of some world-famous names. There was a dinner party at Frank Sinatra’s house, where everyone ate in front of the TV – a new thing to do at the time – and Sandra found herself next to another starlet, one Marilyn Monroe. She says of the period now: “I used to go and stay in Washington, but I was only 21. If I’d been a bit older I might have been better. I wish I’d been more aware of it all at the time.” But she is keen to stress she was not famous herself, back then as Sandra Paul. “In the 60s names didn’t come into it so much. Models weren’t known for their names, except a few.” Married four times, and a mother three, Sandra now relishes being an author, and enjoys the interaction with people.
“I never have a problem being faced with a piece of paper or a laptop. I work in bed with pencil and paper and I have to write things down at night as I rarely remember them in the morning.
“I love doing events like the Folkestone Book Festival, as there will be questions from the audience. I also blog and I love Twitter, it has got a lovely unknown thing about it. With Facebook they are your friends and you know who they are, but with the Twitter world it is so much further than your personal little circle.” She will be in discussion on Wednesday, November 22 at Folkestone Quarterhouse at 12.30pm. Some tickets,
£7, are still available.
‘It is me that decides, of course, but the characters become real in your mind and they take you down paths that you didn’t necessarily think they would take you down. It is one of the wonderful things about fiction. ’
Lady Sandra Howard is looking forward to contribute to the Folkestone Book Festival
Comedian Francesca Marinez
Tracy Chevalier will be turning on the lights in the Creative Quarter
Historian Henry Hemming
Poet Inua Ellams
Peter Snow and his wife Ann Macmillan