This morning I've been along to Chelmsford Library for the launch of this year's Essex Book Festival. It was a superb event - quite a few of us local Essex authors who are taking part in the Festival were there, and other big name authors including Barbara Erskine and Penelope Lively. It was a lovely opportunity to mingle and chat with local librarians, as well as people from reading groups (there are 500 groups in Essex!) - and the whole thing was live on BBC Essex.
I'm excited to be appearing in this year's Festival as part of a panel of Essex writers, together with some good friends of mine from the Romantic Novelists' Association: Fenella Miller, Jean Fullerton, Fay Cunningham and Maureen Lee. Don't be fooled by the term 'romantic': in fact we all write completely different types of books. Maureen is a hugely successful 'Liverpool saga' writer who now lives in Colchester; Fay writes crime novels and has been shortlisted three times for a Crime Writers' award; Jean writes historical novels set in East London and has recently been shortlisted for the 2010 Romantic Novel of the Year award; Fenella writes historical romance novels and novellas; and I write contemporary relationship stories, both as Sheila Norton and as Olivia Ryan.
As a group, we were delighted to be given the venue of Halstead library, on Wednesday 17th March at 2pm, for our event. We will be 'five for the price of one' - what value! - and as a panel, will be there to answer questions from the audience, to meet, chat, and offer signed copies of our books. If anyone from the Essex area would like the chance to buy a ticket (£4, or £3 for concessions), please visit www.essexbookfestival.org.uk or call Halstead Library on 01787 473431.
Following this, we're taking our panel 'on the road', to appear at various libraries in Essex after the end of the Book Festival. The idea has been very warmly received, and already we have bookings for the libraries at Chelmsford, Galleywood, Ingatestone, Harwich, Frinton, and Chipping Ongar - with others in the pipeline. Some of these will be 'closed' events for local reading groups, others will be open to the public: so if anyone's interested, let me know! I'll be posting details, and dates, on the Blog after the end of the Book Festival.
It was great, today, to have coffee and cakes with the rest of the group, after the Festival Launch, and discuss our forthcoming events. We've organised all this ourselves between us, and feel very optimistic and enthusiastic about it. We all appreciate the income we recieve from library readers, via Public Lending Right - and these appearances, as well as being a good PR opportunity for us all, are a chance for us to 'give something back' to the libraries. Without them, we'd be a lot less read, and a lot worse off! I'll look forward to reporting back on the Halstead event in due course but meanwhile, please do pass this on to any friends in the Essex area! Thanks. x