Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Charlie goes to: Penzance Literary Festival

Today we welcome Charlie Cochrane who was extremely fortunate to attend the recent Penzance Literary Festival.

Literary festivals can be big and internationally renowned, small and very locally focussed or just plain disastrous. With my Deadly Dames (writers of cosy mysteries of various sorts) hat on, I’ve done three Litfests and they’ve all been very different. Havant wasn’t blessed with the best of venues (school halls can be a challenge acoustically) but I think we’ll be more comfortably placed for our return gig there this year. Purbeck was blessed with a fantastic panel venue - Durlston Castle – wonderful weather for February, and for a ‘new’ festival they put on a professional show.
Charlie Cochrane

So how did Penzance measure up? In a word, brilliantly. It may not be the easiest place in the world to get to and from, especially when you’re on the road with all the world and his wife, but it’s worth it. There was a real buzz about the place, with many different venues involved, decorative banners across roads and a simultaneous “LittleFest” for younger readers and their families. We had the Gruffalo immediately preceding us at the Exchange!

One of the things that particularly impressed me was the information we were sent in advance of the event, with a map of the various venues, simple directions of how to get everywhere, emergency contact numbers and the like. (I shall be stealing some of those ideas for UK meet.)  All these things make life easier for authors, particularly if they’re new to an event or a location. There were plenty of very welcome little touches in Penzance, like a couple of venues where speakers could put up their feet and have a complementary tea or coffee, and a session about speaking to audiences for any presenters who wanted to develop their skills before they took to the stage. Another nice thing was free admission to any of the sessions running on the same day as ours, including tickets for The Bookshop Band, an impressive folk trio who write the songs taking books or plays for their inspiration.

The range of panels was striking. A consideration of historical versus contemporary crime fiction, exotic sources of inspiration, spy writing, the influence of the Spanish civil war, books based on real lives – the list goes on and on. Add to this music, open mic sessions for poets, and a devilishly tricky quiz and you have the makings of a varied and nutritious diet.

Our session, a question and answer panel about writing in general and writing mysteries in particular, seemed to whizz by in a flurry of laughter and surprise as we ditched the dirt on edits and the like, or revealed our ingenious ways of killing people. As we’ve found before, there are usually aspiring authors in the audience and it’s really rewarding to share our wisdom (such as it is) with them.

Would I go back? Yes, if asked. Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely.  If you’re interested, make contact with them via one of their social media. The worst that can happen is that they say “Not this time”.

As Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes.
She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

Thank you so much, Charlie for finding time to write about this exciting event.

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you have attended a literary event or have something you'd like to share with members of the RNA please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com.


Helena said...

It sounds great fun! Nothing like good organisation and preparation to ensure success.

Charlie Cochrane said...

It was, Helena. My only disappointment was that I didn't get to fangirl Patrick Gale, although I did admire him across a crowded room. Or rather from the balcony of the theatre when the band was playing.

joy.salisbury@newagetv.co.uk said...

Thanks Charlie. We loved having you at this year's Penzance Litfest, and this is a very kind write up, which no doubt will get quoted! Joy

Charlie Cochrane said...

My pleasure, Joy. Kind - maybe. Honest - definitely.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great event (and The Bookshop Band sounds delightful!)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great event, I love the idea of having a "LittleFest" running concurrently. (And the Bookshop Band sounds delightful!)