Friday, 5 June 2015

At the Finchley Lit Fest by Savita Kalhan

It was a glorious Saturday morning with sunshine and late May warmth, and I was all set for my little event in North Finchley Waterstones. The event was organised by Finchley Literary Festival, just one of the many events over the course of five days.
I was expecting to stand at a table with two other authors and a pile of our books in the hope that people would see us and take pity on us and come over and chat. I’m sure every writer I know has been in that particular situation, and sometimes it can be surprising in a good way, and other times it can just be very awkward and demoralising.

As I left the house, the skies darkened and it began to spit, lightly at first, and then it gradually became heavier. Out came the brolly, the mild expletives, and the not so mild expletives. I managed to get to the shop without resembling a drowned rat only because my kind husband dropped me directly outside it.

Inside the shop, I met the authors who were going to be joining me – The Brixton Bard, Alex Wheatle, author of Liccle Bit, and local author Ellie Danes, author of Shine Izzy Shine. So even if the event ended up being just us chatting and occasionally talking to someone who took pity on us, at least it would be fun.

What I hadn’t realised was that the organisers had decided to make the event more of an event. Within minutes they were setting up chairs for the audience. Audience? Yes, it was to be a mainly seated event so we could talk about ourselves, our books, and do a reading, and take questions.

Wow. I hadn’t been expecting that, and I wasn’t at all sure if we would get much of an audience. But we did. It turned out to be a great event. Lots of people came, and not because the heavens had opened up at just the right time, lots of kids came too and asked questions. And to top it all the audience was as diverse as the three authors.

So a big thank you to Finchley Lit Fest!

I know literary festivals are run in many places, but generally you only hear of the big ones, like Hay, Edinburgh, Bath etc. The local libraries played a big part in the Finchley Lit Fest, hosting talks and workshops, and debates. Buzz, the local cafe hosted an evening of poetry reading, and a guided walk around Finchley itself revealed its literary landmarks and its links to writers from Charles Dickens, Keats and Will Self. Finchley’s green spaces provided the back-drop to an inspirational writing/reading walk.

It would be great to see more festivals like this utilising all the available local resources. Like the local library, it promotes all the many aspects of books, writing and reading, and it draws people together, gets children and teenagers involved in a lively interactive way. What better way to promote reading!


Sue Purkiss said...

Sounds like fun!

Joan Lennon said...

It really does!

Savita Kalhan said...

It was great fun, and great to see so many interested kids too!

Lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lindsay said...

Oh, what a lovely write up - we'll put a link on FLF blog and Facebook pages. Glad you enjoyed being part of FLF - we were very pleased you could join us. (Had to delete first comment to edit a typo!)