Michael Collins, author of the historical book St George and the Dragons, will soon welcome guests to a talk in a lunchtime event at the beautiful Casino Maltese. The one-off event is part of a series of events being held in aid of the Save Valletta’s Skyline appeal, which aims to raise more than €8 million to fund vital restoration work to the tower, spire and structure of St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral in Valletta.
The event will be introduced by Karen Elizabeth Steed, the author of Malta: The Beautiful Hour (Miranda Books, 2017). Steed is a writer with a long career in editing and publishing; and was chosen to introduce this event as a fellow author and as a friend of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
“Michael and I had a lively conversation about his book St. George and The Dragons and of course, I immediately wanted to know all about the dragons,” she says. “He’s read my book, Malta: The Beautiful Hour, so he knows I’m predisposed to take the less obvious route to a story.”
The Save Valletta’s Skyline Appeal is one that is close to many people’s hearts, and Steed is one of them. “For me personally, the SOS Appeal campaign is important because I’ve got this (perhaps quaint) idea that if you get a lot from a community, you ought to pay back somehow.
“This is my way of contributing to the health and life of Malta;” she adds. “How lucky I am that I’m able to do it by helping to save the architectural heritage of Valletta! Building on our history is, for me, a way of looking to the future.”
Originally from Canada, Steed has lived in Europe for 20 years and in Malta for the past decade. She and her husband had lived in Provence for 10 years and he was attracted by early retirement in a sunny place. Being British-born and a near-expert on WWII, he also liked the idea of coming to a place with Malta’s rich history.
“So I was compelled to come along!” she laughs. “Not at all ready for retirement, early or otherwise, I first finished a degree with a couple of years of art history and I’m glad I did, as that led me to the Bibliotheca and research for my own book. I wrote about one of the amazing illuminated manuscripts you have on file and it made me think about digging deeper into the art and culture of Malta.”
Steed’s digging led her to write her book, The Beautiful Hour, that celebrates Malta’s arts and culture scene. Asked what is it about the island and its people that inspired her to write it, the author explains that she has always lived an engaged life, whether in Toronto or New York or France or wherever she has been. “So, I set myself a challenge: could you live such a culturally and artistically engaged life here in Malta? That was the question I set for myself.
“Also, I got sick and tired of friends arriving and asking: ‘Apart from sitting in the sun and reading trash novels, what do you do here in Malta?’”, she continues. “Quite a lot, actually! I figured I’d get the book written and published in about 18 months… I’m an experienced writer, editor, publisher, and literary agent, but it took me four years. There’s a lot to say and I wanted to say it in a new way, a way that would give other creative types the answer: ‘Yes, you can live an engaged life here. Takes a bit of work, but the opportunities have never been greater to succeed as an artist, or a writer, or a musician, or an actor, a singer … than now. In Malta.’
“It is our Beautiful Hour.”
The Lunchtime Talk by author Michael Collins at Casino Maltese will be held on 27 November at 12.30pm. The event is open to the public; and tickets, priced at just €25 per person inclusive of lunch and wine, are extremely limited, so early booking is recommended via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.