• book festivals

    As this is the 100th blog that I have posted, it seems fitting to focus on the business of writing. Also, I have just pressed 'send' for my manuscript of the biography of Herbert Sulzbach to go to the publisher, so I find myself particularly interested in the process of sending a book on its way.

    Actually, I have spent most of the past few days reading, rather than writing. It has been a gloriously self-indulgent experience, especially as I have been able to meet the authors of the books. I have been at Hexham Book Festival – not many miles from Featherstone – surrounded by books, writers, and people who love reading.

    It is fascinating to hear how different authors approach their writing – and also to observe different sessions at a book festival. Those events which take place in a big hall, perhaps with the added interaction of an interviewer, clearly create a different atmosphere depending on whether the hall is packed or more sparsely attended. Some of the events that I have attended in smaller venues (such as a small art gallery) have been equally inspirational.

    Some writers seem to be ambivalent about speaking at book festivals. Whilst they hope to sell more books, such promotional activities take them away from writing. Also, a considerable mental and emotional shift is needed to pull writers from the world of their current work and re-immerse them into the book that the audience is expecting to hear about (and which they completed several months ago.)

    Writing is a very solitary occupation, so being surrounded by readers (however supportive) and speaking in front of an audience can be an unusual and somewhat disconcerting experience. An extrovert personality probably helps but so do some visual props, such as projected illustrations or images from the book. Audiences are generally very supportive of writers and their books (otherwise they wouldn't have bought tickets) - but we all enjoy being entertained as well as informed.

    A book festival is a joyous occasion when a writer can re-live the excitement of the world that they have created – and readers (and other writers) can share their enthusiasm. I very much look forward to next year's Hexham Book Festival!

    (photo: cover of programme for Hexham Book Festival 2016)


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On my blog I write about biography, Anglo-German reconciliation, and the life of Herbert Sulzbach.


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