The fourth book festival was last weekend and, as always, the atmosphere of friendliness and fun was most marked and it is this which makes the Felixstowe event so memorable. We are not grand and huge like Oxford or Hay or similar, but small and accessible and run by lovely people and attended by lovely people. It is a joy to be there.
I had the privilege of chairing and introducing four events - by the time I got to the third one in the evening my face was becoming rather familiar to regular attendees and one muttered in my ear when he saw me 'hope you're getting overtime for this'....
Be warned - a lot of pics of me in this post!
My first event of the day was to chair a talk between Martin Edwards, author of a much praised book The Golden Age of Murder and Rob Davies who is the editor responsible for the wonderful British Library Classic Crime series which has become a runaway success. Martin talked at length about how much he loves the Golden Age of Crime writing and how it is being appreciated by a whole new generation; Rob told us how he tracked down books and titles, how the covers were part of the attraction of these books using railway posters in many cases sourced from the British Railway museum. Lots of chat about the authors already published and to come and who was more popular than the others and it was huge fun. I have introduced speakers before but never chaired a meeting like this so I was a tad nervous before we started but then forgot my nerves as both Martin and Rob are such great people and so easy to talk to.
Two lady authors, Veronica Henry and Fanny Blake then chatted about their careers in publishing and the BBC before turning to writing novels. I had no need to chair this, just introduced them and let them roll and they needed no encouragement or questions to provide us all with a most entertaining hour. And here I am with them both.
In the evening I was introducing Alison Weir the historian and historical fiction writer and she was simply terrific. She is embarking on six books about the wives of Henry VIII which is always a fascinating subject and just when you think you know all there is to know about this Merry Monarch you realise that something new always pops up. An enthralling talk accompanied by a slide show kept the full house riveted. It was clear that Alison loved her subject and she was so eloquent and warm and full of love for Katherine of Aragon. She was greeted on arrival by lovers of her books coming up and asking Would you mind signing a book? I love your writing and have quite a few and then a carrier bagful would be emptied on the desk. She was delighted to do so.
At the end of her talk the applause went on and on and it was clear that she had engaged totally with her audience and that included me. Great queue to get books signed afterwards and after one fan asked if she would come back next year and Alison said If I am asked I immediately said Right you are booked. And yes she will come back and talk about Anne Boleyn and that is something I am already looking forward to. A superb evening.
And here I am again..........
To say I was nervous the next morning when I was to chair a talk between Guy Fraser-Sampson and Hugh Fraser was an understatement. So many people wanted to come to this that it was moved to a larger room when one other event was cancelled and this made it even more nerve wracking. Hugh Fraser who most of you will know as Captain Hastings was to talk about his recently published crime novel and Guy, who is well known as the writer of Mapp and Lucia books, had also produced his first crime, were both on the platform. I know Guy well and he is charming and delightful but I had never met Hugh before and have to admit to being a little bit star struck but he was lovely too and so funny and witty. I told him that I would love to ask him about Harrison Ford and Patriot Games and he said go ahead it will be fun. So I did and it was.
And here I am again, again.....
Of course I nearly derailed myself at the beginning of the chat when I was introducing Hugh and got the title of his book wrong. OMG I felt such a fool but everyone, including Hugh, roared with laughter and somehow that steadied my nerves and after that I just sat back and enjoyed every minute. There is a link to the entire talk which is on You Tube should anybody be interested - cannot seem to embed the vid in this post so nip over to You Tube and type in Felixstowe Book Festival and you should find it ok. I hope.
Nearly had a conniption when I watched it and heard myself. Who was that pale faced woman with the plummy voice? Aagh. Hide behind sofa time.
Meg Reid founded the festival four years ago and she is to be congratulated for her vision and organisation. Volunteers abounded, lots of young people there to help, a fantastic Festival bookshop run by Stillwater Books in Felixstowe who did a fantastic job and the Orwell Hotel at Felixstowe are 100% supportive and helpful to the Festival.
Here is the bookshop run by the aforementioned Stillwater Books and all the wonderful helpers
An event like this cannot be put on without an enormous amount of enthusiasm and hard work and I feel privileged to be part of it.
Roll on 2017. Already have a few authors lined up..