BookTrust's seventh Writer in Residence Hannah Berry used her time to champion the role of graphic novels and hosted a sell-out event about why comics are as important as traditional literature.
Hannah Berry joined the ranks of Jonathan Cape's celebrated graphic novel list in 2008 among the likes of Posy Simmonds, Raymond Briggs and Bryan Talbot with her debut book, the noir-esque detective story Britten and Brülightly. The book was highly praised and went on to be published around the world, with the French edition achieving the accolade of being chosen for the Official Selection of the Angoulême International Comics Festival (Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d'Angoulême) in 2010.
Inspired by Calvin and Hobbes and Asterix, Hannah started writing and drawing comics from a young age. She continued throughout school and years of art training, and after graduating from the illustration degree at the University of Brighton in 2004 has worked continuously in graphic novels, inspired by the wealth of Franco-Belgian comics that can be found just across the Channel.
Hannah believes passionately in comics as both a serious art form and a powerful literary instrument and invests huge amounts of time in her work to ensure that both writing and drawing are immersive and highly involving. Her second graphic novel, Adamtine, is a labyrinthine ghost story that aims to soundly unsettle the reader while subtly demonstrating the capabilities of the comic format.
She is a regular tutor on the increasingly popular graphic novel writing course run by the Arvon Foundation, enthusiastically encouraging budding new writers of the medium.
Hannah currently lives in Brighton, where the people are easy-going and the chips are plentiful.
After becoming Writer in Residence, she said:
'In reality the comic format is an incredibly varied and powerful medium of communication, teeming with visual potential and overflowing with narrative possibility. In many countries, particularly France and Japan, it's a given that comics/graphic novels/bandes dessinées/manga can be equally available for a mature audience, so why not here too? There are comics and graphic novels for all ages and all interests, in all styles and all genres, and over the course of the next six months I will make it my mission to wax lyrical about their wonders and to do my bit to further the comics cause.
'In fact, this month happens to be doubly exciting, as not only am I lucky enough to be sharing my non-fiction thoughts here on this very blog, but I also have a new graphic novel coming out. Adamtine is a pensive ghost story; a slice of thinking man/woman's horror, published by the good people of Jonathan Cape.
'So as well as comivangelising (not a word, don't use it in Scrabble) and shouting about the oft-overlooked value of visual literacy, I'll be able to tell you about the highs and lows of having a second book released into the world at large.'