John O’Farrell at Off the Shelf 2017

John O'Farrell talks about his book Things Can Only Get Worse.

“The book that influenced me early on at age 13 was Animal Farm – it is satirical, political and accessible and it didn’t have a happy ending. I thought it was great and it awakened in me an interest in the Russian Revolution and the first stirrings for political writing and satire. So consequently I read all the Orwell novels, which I found revelatory.

“I first appeared at Off the Shelf 20 years ago when I had written Things Can Only Get Better, and I stayed overnight as I was interviewing Nick Hornby. I never thought I’d be here now with a book about how things have gone wrong…Things Can Only Get Worse. I liked the festival so have come back.

“My son did history and politics at the University of Sheffield and I could see the huge change the city has experienced. It is a vibrant place. Sheffield is culturally dynamic and obviously very friendly. It is a compact city and a good size. I love its radical tradition and I have visited it more than any other city in the UK.

“Literature festivals vary enormously. Some are real scams charging £16 for 40 minutes with the author and consequently someone is making a lot of money and it isn’t the author.

“Here you can talk to people and get a reaction. Festivals are important as you can’t replicate seeing someone live.”

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