Essex Book Festival

I awoke to snow this morning, but nevertheless set off for Chelmsford to take part in Essex Authors Day, part of Essex Book Festival. Anything to encourage readers to engage with authors, and buy books.

The event was well-organised. Apparently it happens every year, although this was the first time I'd been invited to take part. I took along a bag of my books which I put on display.

At 10.20 I took the microphone and spoke for fifteen minutes about the process of writing my new book, Fields of Glory, and about the issues presented in writing historical fiction generally. I hadn't prepared anything (apart from printing out a chapter of the book) but my years as a Latter-day Saint have made me comfortable and confident with public speaking.  I wasn't nervous, and was able to wing-it pretty well to a tiny audience of maybe twenty people. (Possibly due to the weather, or maybe the early hour, the event was somewhat poorly attended.)

Speaking to the other authors was really the highlight of the day. It helped me to appreciate what a huge range and variety of experience there is in writing. I spoke to authors of business management manuals, poetry, children's picture books, and memoir, all who had had various degrees of success. They had in common a passion for what they did, and it was nice to reflect that we're not really in competition. Readers like all sorts of books, and generally will buy more than one. When we encourage readers to attend events like this, and to buy or borrow books, everyone benefits.

I didn't sell any books, possibly hampered by the fact that the book I was there to promote hasn't actually been published yet. Swapped a couple with other authors, though, and we were well provided for.


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