Literary Events…

A late in the day post from me, however the day seems to have vanished in a whirl as I have been madly emailing publicists left, right and centre trying to get authors from all sorts of publishers for some events that I am doing for Liverpool’s very first literary festival, and if I have anything to do with it I would love it to be the first of many, In Other Worlds which will launch on the 23rd of April, which also happens to be World Book Night. It is all in honour of the reopening of Liverpool’s library and something I have been very keen to support and get involved in. It also made me want to ask you some questions on literary events…

Now if you could answer these few questions I would be thrilled, and I promise I will respond to all comments (I am behind with other posts but will catch up, I will, I will, I will) as I would love to know what your thoughts are about Literary Festivals. So…

  • Do you ever attend literary festivals and what draws you in?
  • Do you stick to events with authors you know, or the big names, or will you try other events with new or lesser known authors?
  • What has been the best literary event you have been to and why?

Just those three simple-ish questions that I would love your thoughts on just out of interest. Tomorrow I will be asking for more of your thoughts on another project of mine… Its all want, want, want and ask, ask, ask with me at the moment, I do apologise, but I do love your input too, always much appreciated.

14 Comments

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14 responses to “Literary Events…

  1. I love what Scott does with his Firestation Book Swaps, feels fun, informal and a bit more interactive. I’m not a huge fan of going to things where the author just sits there and speaks about their book or their writing for half an hour. Vintage did a great day at Portsmouth last year with lots of different people, including an illustrator, scriptwriter (also author) and their digital team as well as a few quite interesting authors who shared subject matters (which made for a more engaging conversation).

  2. I have attended the Texas Book Festival several years in a row (alas, I missed this year) and have thoroughly enjoyed it. There are so many authors in attendance, and while I get excited for authors I know, the panels I have enjoyed the most are from authors I’ve never read. TBF does a good job of organizing fun and interesting panels, and some of my favorite books have been purchases I’ve made directly after.

    I’ve been to BEA and author signings, but the Texas Book Fest is my absolute favorite.

  3. Sarah Cubitt

    I had a new literary festival start in 2011 on August bank holiday in the gardens of a stately home, locally. I went on my own as none of my friends wanted to go!!! What drew me in was that it was fairly close by & there were some names I recognised. I didn’t know all the authors, so chose by the title of what they were talking about, eg some were light-hearted debates with a couple of authors & a chair person.
    The other thing I liked was that our local independent book store was turned into a popup book store, so you could buy an author’s work there, plus their previous work & get it signed.
    Your friend (thinks she’s your friend?) Emma Jane Unsworth was one of the authors, so you could ask her to tell you more!

  4. We have the biggest literary festival in the world on our doorstep here in Edinburgh, and it’s a fabulous event. I’ve lost count of the writers I’ve seen there over the years, but they include the biggest names of all, debut authors, and well-established ones who were new to me. Sessions are always an hour long and will include an audience Q&A towards the end, and usually a reading – and that’s the bit that can be a let-down as not all writers can read their own work well and they can lose the audience at that point. The other possible weak area is the person who is chairing the event as some are too fond of the sound of their own voices (and we’ve come to hear the author, not the interviewer), are not well enough prepared, or can’t handle a debate, if there should be one, properly.
    As to best events – so difficult to pick one or two from many. Hilary Mantel is a star performer, P.D. James is wise and clever and sharp and funny, Alexander McCall Smith is always delightful, Alexandra Harris (Liverpool Univ.) is hugely knowledgeable and fun and very enthusiastic. I could go on!

  5. In complete contrast to Conrflower (and she’s the one to listen to) my answers are:

    1) No and I’ve never really wanted to
    2) NA
    3) NA

    DP x

  6. I go to events at three literature festivals every year and sometimes a one-off event at other festivals if it catches my eye. I tend to be pretty open-minded and will happily try small author events if there’s an interesting angle to it. The best events I’ve been to have been the ones where it’s not quite business as usual – authors interviewing each other rather than having a moderator for example – and there’s been more humour and a more relaxed atmosphere at those events too. Mostly I want to see what motivates the author and what excites them rather than hear a reading!

  7. I attend the Sydney Writers Festival (SWF) every year, some years I set aside two or three days to focus on it, never less than one. I’m drawn in by knowing the organisers always always arrange interesting thought provoking events. There has not been a year when I’ve been disappointed. I look forward to SWF every year because, going on past experience, I’m confident I’m guaranteed to learn something, be entertained by something and to discover something new. Sometimes the queues are very long, so I often just wander into an event, with shorter queues, often about something I know nothing about, it doesn’t matter because I love a little serendipity. A big draw card is the buzz around the festival precinct, it makes you want to linger, have coffee, chat. The atmosphere is energetic and you are surrounded by like minded people exhilarated by the happenings. The location of the SWF is spectacular, situated on glistening Sydney Harbour but it would be fantastic anywhere, the harbour is just cream on the cake. The Sydney Writers Festival is the only literary event I attend because it is close to home and satisfies me until the next one comes around.
    PS: Best wishes for your Liverpool literary festival.

  8. Simon, thanks for posting about this! I hadn’t heard they were doing this, will have to make sure I have a look at the programme once it comes out!

    In terms of what I like, I’m not particularly interested in author-centred events. It feels too much like an extension of celebrity culture, which I loathe. My favourite events are centred on readers, and about books.

  9. Unfortunately, there are never any literary events in my area, and I don’t have the “freedom” or the extra money to travel to them. Someday, someday…

  10. tortoisebook

    The Emirates Literary Festival is on in Dubai this weekend. There are some pretty big names attending and some interesting workshops. I’m not going mainly because I heard about it a bit late and the events that interest me are on at awkward times. I have, however, booked my 2 little ones into an art workshop on Saturday with Korky Paul which they are looking forward to, so we’ll be there with our copies of Winnie the Witch looking for autographs!

    If I was going, the events that most interest me are: a debate on Who Needs a Women’s Prize for Fiction? with Kate Mosse and Kate Adie (that clashes with my afternoon school run); and Festival Reading Group with Chris Cleave & Tan Twan Eng, this really appeals to me as it is aimed at people who have read the books and want to discuss them with the authors. Wish I was going now, next year…

  11. 1) Books and my love of them draw me in.
    2) I have to be honest any say that I tend to stick to big names or people that I have heard of. That said, I have attended workshops / talks at literary festivals that have been held by industry insiders, such as agents. I would go and see a lesser known author if the subject matter interested me and sometimes you get to know them if they are on a panel with other people.
    3) Cheltenham Literary Festival – it’s local and humongus and there is something for everyone / lots of choice. For example, last year there was Philip Pullman, Benedict Cumberbatch talking about Sherlock, Nigella Lawson and a Great British Bake Off event. I love baking just as much as I love books, so the fact that the two were combined was a win win for me!

  12. 1) I do, though rarely as the pickings are pretty slim where I live.
    2) Both. Unknown authors draw me in if the subject matter is of interest. If the timing is right I would try something totally foreign, but book events can get tedious very quickly so I often don’t take many risks on that front.
    3) Hmm. I haven’t had the pleasure of attending any in a long, long time. I’d say some of the readings I went to in college, Art Spiegelman’s sticks out in my mind at the moment.

  13. 1 yes local festival in sheffield and choice ones I can get in london
    2 tend be writers that interest me or connect to translation
    3 the last to IFFP prize nights have been wonderful to get too
    all the best stu

  14. I’ve been to a few events at the Bristol, Cheltenham and Oxford literary festivals. Each has its quirks. The Bristol one is very small so few big names but that does allow some intimate, fun events. The other two get very big names. I found Cheltenham a bit soulless while Oxford was fantastic. But in general I find them expensive. I’d love to spend a week going to see interesting authors and other bookish stuff but at £10+ for every event I have to limit myself!

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