The Society of Authors meet in Chester
Yesterday something new happened to me. I was introduced by a Town Crier!
Thankfully not in the open air or in his full regalia ( a bit OTT in my opinion), but in a lovely Committee Room in Chester Town Hall. Luckily he didn’t have to shout too loudly
I had been invited to make some opening remarks to a networking social for the northern Society of Authors. They’d all been having an interesting day which started with a boat trip on the river. Before they heard me , they had held a discussion which I was told touched on some pertinent issues- such as should they be paid for library events and what knowledge did they have of festivals in the region.
I gave them a very quick overview of the sorts of ways we like to work with writers- inviting them in to libraries, singly, in pairs or in groups to talk about their own work; to contribute to festivals and special events we might be holding; to visit our reading groups : to work with us to co-create special one-off activities. I was able to name-check some of our high spots of local and social media activity. I also gave them a few action points to help them keep in touch with us
I think they listened and some even made notes.
In the networking social that followed I was able to catch up with some writers who have worked with us over a number of years- Margaret Murphy was there in her A.D.Garrett guise: Hilary Green told me about the range of books she is now writing; I had a lovely discussion about dolls’ houses with Carol Fenlon.
I also made a point of trying to meet some new (to me) writers. I sought out Martine Bailey (pictured) who is someone I’m sure we would all love to host- a writer and a cookery expert who is giving some talks in Cheshire West imminently. She introduced me to Alison Leyland a new name to me, http://www.alayland.uk/about.html who was particularly interesting on books with a Croatian link. I also spoke to a few whose name badges had fallen off or who I didn’t register efficiently so apologies to them for not naming them individually here.
Some other library staff were there too and I saw them busily talking to writers and making links, so hope it was useful to them.
One topic of discussion which I was party to, was asking why some of the better known writers from the North were missing the event. Some of the less well-established writers present felt that they would love to benefit from the experience of writers who have been successful. Anna Ganley of the Society of Authors said she would be asking some of them what might tempt them to attend in future.
Overall it seemed a successful gathering. The venue was very atmospheric. Everyone I spoke to was warm and friendly and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I hope they left inspired- not only to keep writing but also to find out some more about the library services in our region.