On Saturday I spent the day as a speaker and an audience member at the quite unique Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. It was launched in 2015 by my indie publishing heroine and friend (now that I have met her in person) Debbie Young, and apparently goes from strength to strength. What is most unusual about it is that it is free. There is no booking and nothing to pay – you simply turn up and go along to the things that interest you. Hawkesbury Upton is a lovely village near Badminton in Gloucestershire and it is blessed with both a variety of public spaces that serve beautifully as book festival venues, and a resident population that seems happy to turn out in force to support the HULF.
As an author, I took part in a panel discussion on the theme of “Writing Influenced by the Day Job”. The panel was chaired by an accountant and the featured authors were a military nurse, a commodities trader and an anti-money laundering obsessive. And as a bookworm, I attended panels on the themes of “Around the World in 8-ish Books” and “The Best of British”, as well as a handy session offering some self-publishing marketing advice and a fascinating insight by a chap who is writing the “Oxford English Dictionary” (not single-handedly). The 2020 HULF is already being planned, so get the date in your diary right now.
Between bookish matters I succumbed to vanity and attended a photo shoot with a photographer who specialises in portraits, e.g. the moody author ones you see on book covers. I took the precaution of washing my hair and applying clear mascara – that’s about as much as I did on my wedding day, as I’m not very cosmetic-ky – and toddled along to look both moody and authorly. From the selection I was sent I have narrowed it down to two contenders for my official author image to go on book covers, magazine articles, Booker Prize publicity materials, etc. Which do you prefer? (I have them both in black and white as well, but I thought you might like to see what I wore to be bookish.)