Cover Stories: Short story competition; Tintin exhibition; Joseph O'Connor's novel success

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The Independent Culture

How to follow the BBC's Big Read? Why, with a writing competition, in which the public is invited to complete short stories begun by the likes of Ian Rankin, Sue Townsend, Marian Keyes, Fay Weldon, Alexei Sayle, and Joanne Harris.

How to follow the BBC's Big Read? Why, with a writing competition, in which the public is invited to complete short stories begun by the likes of Ian Rankin, Sue Townsend, Marian Keyes, Fay Weldon, Alexei Sayle, and Joanne Harris. End of Story will launch with a programme on 18 April. The openings (published by the BBC) will be distributed via booksellers, and deposited in coffee-shops, stations, bus shelters and other locations identified on the BBC website. Members of the public can then complete a story, and a team of readers will whittle the contenders down to 10 for each author. An autumn series will showcase the winners, who are likely to receive a Radio 4 airing. A book will feature the completions.

* Fans of Tintin will know that the boy reporter's first adventure took place 75 years ago. Since then, Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock have appeared in 23 books, selling 200 million copies in 50 languages. This week, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich opened its doors to a tribute to Tintin's creator, Georges Rémi - known as Hergé. The exhibition, which runs until September, examines Tintin, Hergé, the history of the comic strip, and the maritime stories. Why not plan an Easter treat?

* Despite being Sinéad's brother, Joseph O'Connor had laboured for more than a decade without notable success until Bob Geldof went on TV to call his Star of the Sea "a masterpiece". Since its Richard and Judy moment, the novel has topped the paperback bestsellers. O'Connor's publisher, Geoff Mulligan of Harvill Secker, has now signed him up for a further three books, paying a reported seven-figure sum. And Working Title, responsible for Billy Elliot and Bridget Jones' Diary, has bought screen rights.

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