One of the drawbacks of combining a full-time job with writing is that it’s far from easy to fit in events where one can meet readers (and prospective readers!) But it’s something I enjoy a good deal when I can manage it, and I had a bumper day last Saturday.
I’d been invited to take part in the Middlesbrough Literary Festival, and I drove up during the morning to Acklam Library to give a talk about Dr Crippen’s life and misadventures. I’ve given this talk several times, and there are usually plenty of questions – but never as many as on Saturday afternoon. Tremendous fun.
Then it was over to the centre of town, where I stopped off at my hotel and had a quick wander round before heading for the impressive Central Library to host a Victorian murder mystery evening. The cast of suspects included Alex, from Southside Broadcasting – and I hope to include podcasts of the interviews we did on my website in due course – and the husband of Gill Appleton, who organised both events. The audience was enthusiastic and the top prize was won by Allison Rae.
I was pretty weary by the end of the day, so much so that I didn’t make much progress with the novel I’m reading – the new one by Reg Hill – but the effort was absolutely worthwhile. Two pleasant and very different events with a good audience vibe on each occasion. I really do hope that public sector spending cuts don’t reduce the scope for libraries to hold events and festivals. They are great for writers – but even more importantly, they are great for bringing readers together, and fostering a sense of community.