Signs of Life

iStock_000003964158SmallSigns of life on the normally glass-smooth surface of my working year. I suddenly have a couple of gigs in my diary for September and October, one in West London and one in Surrey. I’ll be posting details as they firm up and only mention them today in order to ease into the mushrooming topic of literary festivals. There are more than 200 of them now in the UK. Hay has gone international. Last year I was invited to…. none.

Readers sometimes contact me and ask if they may put my name forward for their local bookfest. I always say yes. And in my twenty years as a published author I have done a few festivals. Well, two actually. Pitiful, isn’t it? I don’t know why. I don’t have bad breath. I’m not high maintenance. Perhaps that’s the problem. Perhaps if I put it about that I expect a limo and a personal masseur I’d get more bookings. You know? Up my game?

I’ve attended some festivals as a paying punter, invited by friends. It’s a bit of a busman’s holiday frankly, but one can always learn something. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things I’ve learned.

1. Just because people can write doesn’t mean they’re any good on a platform.

2. Everyone wants to meet Michael Palin.

3. Or John Simpson.

4. There are few more dispiriting experiences than waiting to go on whilst one’s publicist peers round the vestry door, talking up your audience size. As in: ‘Here’s two more. Ah, no. They were just collecting their Christian Aid envelopes.’

5. Your audience is not necessarily a reflection of your fame (unless you’re Michael Palin). Some people will go to anything. Particularly on a wet Sunday afternoon.

So anyway, this year I’m in business. How very nice to be asked. More information soon. Watch this space.



  1. Elizabeth Dunn on July 12, 2013 at 4:32 am

    I’ve always wanted to go to Hay. Or to the International Book Festival in Edinburgh in August and see McCall Smith talking. I’m sure you’d be just as entertaining. I think the writers that get invited have branded themselves as personalities or as an expert in one thing or another. You could be the expert in humour in history or cooking while writing – or both. Food always gets an in.

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