This is a continuation from my last post, so you may want to read that first. Click here if you haven’t.
Because the Deepings are a bit of a drive from my house, we’d travelled the night before and stopped at a Premier Inn in Peterborough. As with all Premier Inns, a pub was attached to it, this one called, unusually, Paul Pry. Although not obviously relevant yet, do bear with me.
Having spent the morning being entertained with talks, the afternoon offered something different. When we’d looked at our options, we’d realised the choice was between a talk by Sophie Hannah or attending something referred to as ‘Read Dating’. We’d concluded the latter option would give us more variety. This event was at the Deepings Library, which was a bit of a walk away from our initial venue.
We took the opportunity to call in at a café for lunch. The place was empty, which isn’t generally a good sign, but they explained they’d only just emptied as a load of diners had dashed in to eat before rushing out to their next event. The festival was clearly helping local businesses.
Without any other diners competing for the attention of staff, lunch was served promptly so, as we made our way to the library, we thought we’d be uncharacteristically early. We weren’t. As we arrived, it became apparent the main event was starting imminently.
Read Dating involved eight local authors sitting at separate tables, waiting to be quizzed by potential readers. The librarians were armed with a bell and, town crier-like, would use it to interrupt every ten minutes, giving instructions to move on to the next author.
The authors were split in equal number between two sections of the library. Esther and I decided to go to separate sections, and I headed for the one where Eva Jordan was, intending to keep my earlier promise to catch up. Eva was already occupied, though, so I headed to Tony Forder’s table.
Of the authors there, Tony was the only one I’d read before. I’d thoroughly enjoyed his thriller Scream Blue Murder, which helps when you meet an author for the first time. His DI Bliss series is apparently more popular, but Tony was pleased to talk about this book and revealed he’d written it for his father, so it’d been more personal for him than his others.
As it happened, I’d got the first Bliss novel lined up on my Kindle to read, and I started on it the next day. Within a couple of chapters, Bliss goes for a drink in the Paul Pry pub. Didn’t see that one coming…
My next author was Jane E James, who was completely new to me, but great to talk to and clearly enthused about her books, which all sounded interesting. I’ve opted to start with The Butcher’s Daughter, but only because writing it converted her to vegetarianism. Or rather, visiting butchers and slaughterhouses for research did. Having not eaten meat for nearly 20 years, I’m intrigued to see what her research turned up.
Then I met Ross Greenwood, whose name was familiar to me, but not his work. I can only assume I know the name from reading reviews by bloggers. I liked the sound of his books and have downloaded one already, though it may be a while before I get to it. (The only problem with reading book blogs is getting so many recommendations you don’t have time to read them!)
Eva was still busy (a popular girl!), so I moved on to the next room, where I met three other authors – sadly, there wasn’t time for the fourth. I’ve downloaded Tony Millington’s book, Unsilent Grief, and Margaret Castle’s The House On Stilts as a result of those chats. Again, no promises on how quickly I’ll get to them, but I will!
I have to say, every 10-minute slot flew by, and I could easily have sat and chatted for a lot longer with everyone there.
But I still hadn’t got to Eva, so popped back to find her chatting to Esther. Sadly, we didn’t have loads of time, but we did end up having our photos taken with her, and got to meet her mum, who was along to support her – it’s always good to meet a proud parent.
The day before, Esther had issued a blog post asking what her followers were reading. One of them said he’d just read Eva’s book All The Colours In Between, adding: “Rarely has a book moved me in the way this one did.” Another coincidence – or is it a sign? It’s on Esther’s TBR pile now, and I might even be tempted myself.
As the authors were all rounded up for group photos, we headed back out into the sunshine feeling both relaxed and enthused. This session had been the right choice to make – with no disrespect to Sophie Hannah. Getting to talk one-to-one with the authors, all with different writing and publishing experiences, had been insightful and left us feeling more encouraged about our own work.
And that’s what we’ve found from going to this kind of event: every time, our enthusiasm for writing grows.
There’s also a sense of camaraderie within the literary community. Perhaps it’s because writing can be very solitary. Perhaps it’s knowing even the slightest degree of success in this world can be very hard to achieve. Or maybe it’s simply the joy of being able to share our stories. Whatever it is, I’m so glad to be a part of it.