I thought I’d begin today’s blog with a photo taken in the Green Room of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, which was held 18-21 April. The Green Room is where the speakers and organisers gather between giving talks and leading workshops. As you can see from the above spontaneous, unposed (ahem) photo, we’ve paused in our conversation and are all reading Cotswold Life.
The picture was taken by Sarah McIntyre, who’d just returned from leading a workshop in which she and some highly enthusiastic children had created The Silliest Superhero on the Planet. The photos taken at her workshop speak for themselves. Click here if you’d like to see her photo-filled blog of her workshop.
To go back to why I was at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival last Saturday – it was to give a talk at Number 24, the Literary Cafe. My subject was writing a novel and how to stand out from the crowd when it came to looking for an agent or publisher.
As is my wont, I reached the cafe ridiculously early, having had a glorious, traffic-free drive through the Cotswolds. I arrived at about the same time as Chris Hill, who was to give the talk ahead of mine. Chris and I got talking, and I decided to keep him company whilst we waited for people to arrive.
Time passed very pleasantly. I learned that Chris’s novel, Song of the Sea God, had been shortlisted for both the Daily Telegraph Novel in a Year competition and the Yeovil Literature Prize under its earlier name of The Longing. A literary writer, Chris has won a number of short story prizes including the Bridport Prize. You can find out more about Chris and his writing by clicking here. He was a fun companion and I very much enjoyed getting to know him.
The social side of these events is very important, and after a most enjoyable morning, I wandered through the beautiful little town of Chipping Norton, which was gleaming gold in the bright light of the sun, and ended up at the Green Room, where I hoped to meet the organisers of what was clearly a festival with a buzz and to catch up with any friends there.
On my arrival, I passed Julian Fellowes, who’d just been giving a talk entitled The Story Behind Downton Abbey and who was now signing books. I went up the stairs to the Green Room, and the first people I saw when I entered were agent Carole Blake and author Liz Fenwick.
It was great catching up with Carole and Liz, and it was whilst we were all talking, eating – the food was delicious – and drinking that Sarah took the photograph with which I introduced this short blog. So that brings me round full circle.
All I can say is, Roll on ChipLitFest 2014!!
In the interim, I shall be going to Kansas City next week with my publisher, Choc Lit, to take part in the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention. My next blog, therefore, will come from Kansas City, Missouri.