Monday 12 June 2017

A Literary Festival and me...

The first Earls Barton Literary Festival, organised by Carolyn Palot-Watts, ran over this past weekend, the 10th and 11th of June and thanks to my good friend Sue Moorcroft, I was asked to participate - chuffed to be invited to my first ever Lit Fest, I readily agreed.
Reading from The Mill - picture by Sue
My talk, which began at 2.15, was called “How can you write what you know when you write horror?”.  At the time I suggested it, some months beforehand, I thought it was broad enough that I could think of something smart to say and, late last week, I finally figured out what that was going to be.  That didn’t help my nerves - and nor did the fact that I had all morning on Sunday to worry about it.  Using my novella The Mill as the basis, I worked through the idea of how using real life - elements of my own and locations that are local to me - within my horror story grounded the supernatural elements and made them seem (hopefully) more believeable.
We - Alison, Dude and myself - arrived at the home of my event co-ordinator Mary Brown on time, we introduced ourselves and she took us up to the venue, the Parish Church Halls.  I was settled in the main area, a largish room with a small stage and Dude helped me figure out where I'd best be sat.  Mary & I chatted and she told me, in anticipation of our meeting, she'd read The Factory and, while it wasn't her normal thing, had enjoyed it (which was nice).  Even so, nerves started to eat at me, not just that I’d forget everything and spend the whole hour staring at my notes thinking “what the hell does that mean?” (assuming I could read my own hand-writing) but also that nobody would turn up.  Thankfully, they did.
Taken by Alison, this shows Sue taking the picture of me at the top of the post.  My co-ordinator, Mary, is sitting on the edge of the stage
At 2.15, Mary did her ‘house keeping’ duties (toilets are here, emergency exit is there, books are for sale on that table) and I set off.  I was lucky enough to have a decent sized audience, luckier still that they listened attentively (especially to my readings) and as the time wore on, my confidence grew and I even threw in some funny bits (which got laughs).  My timing of the speech was a bit off - I finished about thirty minutes into my scheduled hour - but there were some great questions and I loved them, especially since they allowed me to go off on tangents (which, if you've talked to me in real life, you'll know I tend to enjoy doing).  A question about the genre community got me talking about FantasyCon (I think the Grand Hotel in Scarborough gets more gothic every time I describe it) and I also managed to tell the story of the time I stood up at the book launch for Tourniquet Heart and read my short Up For Anything (and the disgusted groan that elicited from Paul Finch).  All too soon, it was 3.15 (I finished off the session with my Portugese ghost story, which you can read here) and that was it - people came up to thank me and chat, I sold and signed some books, Dude came and sat on the stage to help me and my paying audience seemed happy, which was wonderful.

We then retired to the Swan pub (where my writing group meets) with Neil & Donna Bond, for a chat and a drink and it was the perfect way to finish.

I wrote an afterword to The Mill, which you can read here.

Sue's event, held in the Methodist Church on Saturday morning, was a fascinating talk entitled "my route to number one".
The programme, featuring me and Sue.  I didn't grow up in Rushden...
It was a terrific afternoon and, for all my nerves, as soon as I finished I wanted to do it again.  Well done to Carolyn and her team and I hope this proves to be the first of many literary festivals in Earls Barton!

1 comment:

  1. Well done, sir. I think that must have taken a lot of guts. I couldn't do such a thing myself as, frankly, I don't have the legs for it.