After years of attending them as a listener, I am going to my first literary festival as a speaker. It is the Alderney Literary Festival (Alderney is one of the Channel Islands, part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and I am familiar with it through my day job – anti-money laundering). This is the second annual festival run by the Alderney Literary Trust, and it has a particular bent, as explained on their website: “[This is] a ‘boutique’ literary festival where historians and novelists meet to explore the boundary between historical fact and fiction and discuss their writing approach to bringing the past to life.” Right up my street – my Great Marlborough Street, if you will.
Like most of the speakers – so far, we number ten – I am doing a solo talk and taking part in a panel discussion. My solo piece is entitled “New dogs and old tricks: historical financial crime fiction”, and I will be looking at how much we have learned – or, more accurately, not learned – about how to avoid falling victim to scams, frauds and financial cons. And my panel discussion, where I will sit alongside Karen Maitland (who sets her books in the Middle Ages) and William Ryan (1930s Russia), will concentrate on crime writing.
I am, of course, rather nervous – this is stellar company (and even Stella company, with Dame Stella Rimington coming to talk about her books and the challenges of writing autobiography). But I keep reminding myself that the audience will be there because they like books and authors, and I do genuinely know more about Sam Plank than anyone else. And I cannot wait to meet other people who spend as much time as I do not just in the past, but in an imaginary past.