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A novel route for Heathrow

02 August, 2011


Heathrow has appointed Tony Parsons, one of the UK's most popular fiction writers, as its writer-in-residence this summer with a brief to write a book capturing the many stories and emotions of Britain's biggest airport.

Heathrow has appointed Tony Parsons, one of the UK’s most popular fiction writers, as its writer-in-residence this summer with a brief to write a book capturing the many stories and emotions of Britain’s biggest airport.

Parsons, who is best known for the multi-million selling novel 'Man and Boy' – a novel about a dad’s relationship with his son – will live amongst passengers and airport workers for one week from Wednesday, 3 August 2011 to better understand the lives and routines of his potential characters.

Departures: Seven Stories from Heathrow will be Parsons’ 13th book and his first collection of short stories.  Inspired by Airport, the 1960’s bestselling novel about a large metropolitan airport and the personalities of the people who use and rely on its operation, Parsons wants to revive this genre of airport fiction made famous by Arthur Hailey.

During his residency, Parsons will roam the terminals to unearth the stories of the people that pass through its doors, with the events inspiring the plotline and the passengers its characters. At the author’s request, Parsons will also meet airport staff including pilots, air traffic control officers, police, fire chiefs and immigration officers.

The Heathrow writer-in-residence initiative was first launched in 2009 after the airport appointed philosopher and author Alain de Botton to tell the behind-the-scenes story of a week at Heathrow. Parts of the book, titled 'A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary', were written from a desk in Terminal 5 where passengers were invited to share their stories.

Tony Parsons comments: “Airports are places of extreme emotion where people come and go and experiences begin and end. Often when we travel we find ourselves in such a hurry to get to our end destination that we fail to appreciate the individual stories and moments happening before us. Having grown up reading Arthur Hailey's novel 'Airport' it feels like an incredible opportunity to live at Heathrow and write about the people whose lives are touched by it. I am looking forward to sharing these experiences and to reviving the airport fiction genre with my first short story collection.”

Terry Morgan, Heathrow's Acting Chief Operating Officer, comments: “Tony Parsons is a fantastic storyteller who has agreed to bring to life the many amazing stories that take place at Heathrow each day. We are delighted that passengers flying through Heathrow this summer will have the chance to inspire characters in a book by one of the world’s most renowned fiction writers.”

Tony Parsons will live at Heathrow in a hotel attached to one of the terminals from 3-9 August 2011.  5,000 copies of 'Departures – Seven Stories from Heathrow' will be given away for free to passengers before going on general sale through HarperCollins from October 2011.

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Notes to Editors

About the Author - Tony Parsons

Tony Parsons’ working life began in a Gin Distillery. Unfortunately for Tony he developed an acute allergy to the spirit. From these experiences his first novel, 'The Kids', was born and so began a literary and television career that thankfully did not affect his health!

He began as a writer with the New Musical Express in 1976 where he stayed for the next three years covering music such as The Clash, Blondie and The Sex Pistols. Going on to write for the Daily Telegraph Tony then moved to the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan took over as editor and continues to write a weekly newspaper column today.  He also writes a monthly column for GQ magazine.

Tony broke into television in the 1990s with regular appearances on the Late Review where he, Alison Pearson, Tom Paulin and Mark Lawson formed a regular panel to discuss the latest developments in art and culture. Tony has since fronted documentary series such as Parsons on Class and Without Walls, while also making guest appearances on programmes like Celebrity Mastermind, Question Time and the One Show.

Tony is the author of 'Man and Boy', winner of the Book of the Year Prize. His subsequent novels -'One For My Baby', 'Man and Wife', 'The Family Way', 'Stories We Could Tell' and 'My Favourite Wife' - were all bestsellers. In 2010, Tony published 'Men from the Boys' - the third part to the trilogy that began with 'Man and Boy'.

Contact information

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Heathrow Airport
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