Early June, in a Sussex barn – you can hum along to the old tune if you can remember it – seventeen book clubs, fun, food and wine, what a venue, what a night…
To explain. Last night, along with three other authors – including the wonderful Sarah Rayner whose latest novel Another Night, Another Day is a blinder – I had the privilege and pleasure of talking about my novel Public Battles, Private Wars to members of 17 different book groups in an enormous 400-year-old barn in rural Sussex.
Yes, 17; there were around 100 people present. Added to this was food and wine and representatives from East Sussex Library Service and a book stall selling our wares. The Big Book Club Bash in the Barn is the brainchild of and organised by Diana Carsons, a powerhouse of a woman with a serious passion for reading. Originally, she hails from Rhyl in north Wales, not far from where I grew up, so she has more than one thing to recommend her. Book club members come along with food and drink (and their own chairs) which is then laid out for all to share. After grub and chat, they listen to authors speak about their work and then representatives from each group talk briefly about their favourite reads of the year and those they found more challenging. They share ideas and tips, and as authors we get the opportunity to connect with readers, many of whom might not have been previously familiar with our work.
It was an incredible night. I spoke to many gorgeous people and sold all the copies of my novel that I’d brought. I stepped in at the last minute and had no time to get a decent stock, so admittedly this wasn’t too many. But given that I didn’t expect to sell any (I was speaking with best-selling novelists who’ve been around much longer than me) it was the icing on the cake of what was an exciting and memorable evening. Author heaven, I’d say.
Thank you to Diana and Sarah for inviting me. And to the book groups members for listening so attentively and, more importantly, for loving literature. Keep reading.