As ever, this year’s Literature Festival was a cracking affair. To prevent myself from becoming bankrupt I usually just pick one or two events I am particularly interested in.
This year I chose Simon Schama’s talk on his latest book The Story of the Jews and The King’s Grave: Search for Richard 111 featuring the host, my friend Caroline Sanderson and Philipa Langley of Channel 4 fame and Michael Jones, co-author and historian.
Simon Schama opened his talk with a few classic Jewish jokes which set the tone for the event, finishing with a Jewish version of the ‘three men walk into a pub’ classic! Afterwards, I stood in the long book-signing queue. In front of me was a man who told me he had only cried three times in his life and the third time was watching Simon Schama’s TV series of the book. I told him he must tell Simon this when he got his book signed. He was reluctant – that old macho thing surfacing. Nevertheless, when it came to his turn he told him and came away beaming. I was next and told Simon I had told him to tell him. Simon leaned forward and rubbed my arm saying “Bless you, Christine”.” He knew my name because it had been written on a Post It note by one of the stewards! Well, it was too good an opportunity to miss so I told him I was writing a novel on Gloucester’s medieval community. He was very interested and gave me his email address so I could keep in touch (see picture below). He told me he was running a course on historical fiction this Fall at Columbia. I asked if it was an on-line course but sadly it’s not.
The following day I attended The King’s Grave. This was an excellent event and I have to say Philipa Langley came across as very level-headed and passionate about Richard 111 and not at all like ‘the flake’ Channel 4 made her out to be. If it hadn’t been for her persistence and belief in her “intuitive experience” in that Leicester car park the world would never have found Richard’s grave. Afterwards, I went to the front to congratulate Caroline on a well-hosted event. She introduced me to Philipa and Michael and took me ‘backstage’ to the book signing event in the Waterstone’s tent. It felt like a forerunner to my own book signing – sometime in the future. Hold that thought!!
The annual Society of Author’s lunch followed later in the week in the HSBC Hospitality tent which was poorly attended this year but full of new faces and it made a pleasant change to connect with so many new members. While we were lunching Ruby Wax turned up to do an interview with BBC Gloucestershire. A fellow writer had booked to see her that afternoon as she has written a book on Mindfulness. Because of my experience with Simon Schama I told her to go over and introduce herself. She did and came away with a promise from Ruby to endorse her book. Author networking in action!!
Already looking forward to next year’s event!