Yesterday I was privileged to attend the Writing on the Wall (WoW) literary festival in Liverpool. It was held in Liverpool’s wonderful new (it opened to the public just over a year ago) central library, which has been expertly refurbished so that it combines the best of the old, classically-built library exterior with a stunning, light-filled new building, the atrium of which is awe-inspiring in its use of space and light.
Yesterday’s event was superlatively well organised by Abi Inglis, a recent graduate of Liverpool John Moores University, who runs her own online magazine (Heroine) for women and has been helping with or running literary events in the city for several years. Madeline Heneghan was the overall festival director and Mike Morris the operations director.
I was doubly grateful to Abi, because, as well as inviting me to talk at the festival about how to get published, she also gave me a short slot to read the opening chapter of my next DI Yates novel, Sausage Hall, which will be published on 17th November. This was Sausage Hall’s first public outing, and marks the start of a series of events that Salt and I are planning both in the lead-up to the publication date and immediately afterwards.
Even better, Abi devoted a large part of yesterday afternoon to Salt and Salt authors. Mike Morris, himself a published playwright, interviewed Jon Gale, a young Liverpudlian author whom he obviously admires greatly and whose novella Albion was recently published by Salt as part of the Modern Dreams series.
Mike then chaired a panel session of four Modern Dreams authors: Jon Gale, Denny Brown, Michelle Flatley and Jones Jones. This was one of the best panel sessions I’ve ever seen conducted at a literary festival. Mike elicited comments from each of the authors with great skill, giving them each an equal opportunity to talk, and they were all courteous, articulate and extremely interested in each other’s work. It was a proud day for Salt!
Knowing that I was going to meet them, I read each of these authors’ novellas before the event, and was hugely impressed by them (Denny Brown’s is called Devil on your Back,
Michelle Flatley’s Precious Metal,
and Jones Jones’ Marg).
They all had an interesting story to tell about their journeys towards being published by Salt: Denny Brown, a mother of five, was the victim of an abusive marriage; Michelle Flatley is an artist who teaches refugees; Jones Jones is a journalist who has recently felt the compelling need to write fiction; Jon Gale has struggled for several years to find a publisher since leaving university. I recommend all their novellas: they’re ideal for commutes or train journeys, or simply for rainy evenings at home – I’m certain you’ll find that the time spent reading them will be more entertaining than watching TV. All are available as e-books from a variety of channel providers, including Amazon, which has just launched a promotion for the whole Modern Dreams series.
I was sponsored to talk about ‘How to get Published’ by PrintonDemandWorldWide, whose new venture, The Great British Bookshop, provides authors with an alternative to Amazon if they want to self-publish but need help with sales channels.
PODWW gave me some notebooks, pens and guidelines for authors to distribute at the festival, which proved to be extremely popular.
I can’t conclude this post without mentioning what a wonderful public audience the city of Liverpool produced for this event.
It was one of the most diverse audiences I’ve met at a literary festival: families brought their children; there were many teenagers and young adults; quite a few senior citizens and some people with disabilities took advantage of the easy access to the library to join in the festival fun. All listened keenly, welcomed the authors enthusiastically and asked great questions. The main festival arena was packed at all times and the ante-rooms, where authors’ surgeries and DVD presentations about apps took place, were also always full. An inflatable ‘pod’, another of Abi’s brainwaves, which offered a range of activities for children, was also very popular – and frequented by children of all ages!
Well done, the festival team and the city of Liverpool, for an absolutely stunning event.
Footnote: If you’re organising a literary event this autumn and would like me to give a reading from Sausage Hall and explain how I came to write it, please let me know. Salt is also offering a limited number of reading copies and there will be a competition later in the autumn to help to promote it. More details will appear here and on the Salt website.