This article is from 2006.
Joolz Denby does not do crime fiction. Sure, there’s a lot of nefarious activity in Borrowed Light, the Bradford born novelist and poet’s Cornish-set follow-up to her Orange Prize shortlisted Billie Morgan, but she’s hardly PD James. Nevertheless, that’s the cell her Edinburgh International Book Festival reading has her locked up in. Which is where some esteemed members of Orange, according to Denby, would rather such an anarchic upstart remained. ‘I’m not the sort of person who, in their eyes, is supposed to be shortlisted for awards like that and some people weren’t very happy about it. Which is probably why the shortlist was so safe this year.’
Fact is, Ms Denby is a cultural revolutionary. This is no idle boast, but, care of the 20 ft high images that currently adorn the north of England as part of the Illuminate festival, it’s official. Praise indeed for the biker chick turned punk performance poet and illustrator of graphic novels, which include a radical re-interpretation of Wuthering Heights. The1980s ranting poetry scene Denby sprang from may have been typified by the likes of Attila the Stockbroker and Seething Wells, but it was Joolz you didn’t mess with. Having spent much of the last 25 years touring with first generation anarcho-punk band New Model Army, she now regularly hitches up with relative young pups, New York Alcoholic Anxiety Attic.
Her next novel, Wild Thing, is based on the idea of feral children being ‘brought back’ into civilisation, while, following an exhibition of body modification, Denby has just completed her first tattoo on her own tattooist. ‘I’ve had complaints from little old ladies at the Hay-on-Wye festival. But it’s funny that breast implants are deemed acceptable but tattoos aren’t. Tattoos are just one thing you do to make yourself feel more like you.’ (Neil Cooper)
14 Aug (with Allan Guthrie), 7pm, £8 (£6).