Life is all about making memories and there are many moments in an author’s life that are special: receiving that first favourable review of a new book, meeting readers and making new friends in the book world. Some of those moments, like the people you meet who become close friends, signing with an agent/publisher, the first time you hold a finished book in your hand, and events you attend, stay with you long after the event. In such a solitary profession, it is lovely to be able to get out and about and this weekend I attended Althorp Literary Festival, a truly unforgettable experience.
As a Northamptonshire author, being invited to speak at the fourteenth Althorp Literary Festival, organised by Lord Spencer himself and held at Princess Diana’s birthplace of Althorp House was such an incredible honour. Those of you that know me will be aware that although I’m not a natural public speaker, I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few literary festivals during my five years as an author, and this past year I’ve also spoken at a number of local events too. So, I might not be quite as nervous as when I first started out. But this was Althorp and, oh, that setting! My nerves were certainly jangling yesterday morning, I can tell you. But I really shouldn’t have worried. The organisation was impeccable, the staff couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful, and the authors and attendees were incredibly well looked after.
I was due to be interviewed by Helen Blaby from BBC Radio Northampton, and I met her in the ‘green room’ (still pinching myself!) which was based in the library. There was something very calming about sitting and chatting with a cup of tea, surrounded by walls lined with floor to ceiling bookcases housing ancient books and, I have to say, my nerves did start to settle. It was also fabulous to meet some of the other authors – I did have a fangirl moment over Evan Davies!
The event itself was wonderful and so much fun. I’m humbled that BBC Radio Northampton’s book club chose The Lies Within as their festival read and it was really interesting to hear what readers thought of the story. Helen Blaby, of course, was the consummate professional and made sure the conversation flowed and I didn’t dry up, a fact I’m hugely grateful for.
After the event, we had lunch in the Tapestry Passage (a choice of roast dinner or amazing fish salad – I chose the latter because I’m a sucker for lobster). Lord Spencer circled and chatted to everyone throughout lunch and was an amazing host. Later we wandered around the beautiful grounds. All in all, a truly memorable day.
I’d like to thank Lord Spencer and all the staff at Althorp for organising such a wonderful festival in the heart of Northamptonshire, and for inviting me to speak. It was truly an honour and a moment that will stay with me forever. Gratitude goes to Helen Blaby and John Griff from BBC Radio Northampton. John, for choosing The Lies Within as the festival read and Helen, for interviewing me on the day. I’m also hugely grateful to friends, family and of course the lovely readers who came along and helped to make it so special. I hope it was as memorable an occasion for you as it was for me.