Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Joy of Book Fairs

Christoph Fischer and Me 
I attended my first book fair on Saturday. I have been to Christmas Fairs before and I attend Raglan Castle’s annual Tudor Weekend in the summer where I sell lots of books and meet readers and re-enactors but this was my first proper venture into the world of Book Fairs.
I am a very shy person. I thought I might feel like an amateur. I thought it might be ‘clicky’ or my elaborate Tudor style table layout wouldn’t be appropriate for this type of event. Happily, I was wrong. It was a lovely day.

I had only met two of the other authors previously, and a handful were as yet unseen Facebook contacts; the rest were strangers. I don’t usually like strangers. But now, after Saturday’s book fair, they are friends. More than one confessed to also being nervous and uncertain of what was expected, and this sharing of confidence made me realise that other authors are nothing to be afraid of. They are just ordinary people with stories to share.

We were all brought together by the tireless efforts of Christoph Fischer, a prolific author himself, who provides unflagging support of his fellows. The moment we arrived and began to set up our tables a sort of camaraderie emerged. We helped carry boxes, borrowed tablecloths, admired one another’s posters, peeped between the covers of each other’s books. With so much in common, I knew right away it was going to be a good day.

There were talks. I kicked off with a talk about Tudor portraits. After having made comprehensive prompt notes to help me along, I then forgot my reading glasses and couldn’t read a word. I need not have worried. I realised I would just have to ‘wing it’ and the audience was patient and brilliantly supportive. They offered up intelligent, interesting questions for me to answer about the Tudors. In fact, in the end we ran over the allotted time and some of them joined me at my book table afterwards to continue the discussion.

There were workshops from Judith Barrow (author of the Patterns Trilogy) and Sharon Tregenza who writes children’s fiction. Wendy Steele, author of what she describes as 'fantasy with a dollop of magic,' gave a talk on Fantasy and Magical Realism. Carol Lovekin read from her new release Ghostbird, and Julie McGowan read from Don’t Pass Me By. I was delighted to meet Thorne Moore, whose atmospheric books I really enjoy. At the table near mine was Rebecca Bryn. The evening before I’d started reading her book, The Silence of the Stones, although I’d no idea she would be attending.

There were many, many more authors present, too many to mention in detail but the fair provided something for everyone, all literary tastes catered for.

A steady stream of visitors kept the day interesting. I had many stimulating conversations, gained some news readers and met readers who have been following me since my early days. For me, the most thrilling person to come to my stall and buy my books was a young girl. I don’t know her name but she was no more than twelve, and she reminded me of myself at that age. When her mother handed her the books she purchased, she clutched them to her chest and spoke shyly but with great passion of her love of history. It is always nice to meet a kindred spirit. I told her I’d begun writing when I was her age and hope she went away encouraged to begin to write her own.

To boost our flagging energy local food outlet Iechyd da kept us topped up with tea and coffee and some rather delicious cake. We could not have done without them.

This morning I learned that the Llandeilo Book Fair was so successful, another has been booked for 10th December 2016 – hope to see you there.