Nice evening yesterday in Chorlton Library, reading for Chorlton Arts Festival. It wasn't a huge audience - which indeed I didn't expect it to be, since I was in competition with 5 other festival events and Carol Ann Duffy and Robin Robertson in town! - but it was suitable for the space, a cosy corner of the library with a bright green-and-blue carpet - in fact it was the children's space and thus extremely suitable for the story I kicked off reading, which is in the voice of a 9-year-old girl ('Educational Psychology', which has just been longlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize.) David Green from the library and Hazel from the festival created a nice, relaxed atmosphere too, laying on cups of tea as people arrived.
As always with a smaller number, it was possible to get a thoughtful discussion going. Actually, I must say the audience was a bit shy at first, which took me by surprise, and even threw me off balance, as I've had some really forthcoming audiences recently, I realise. Things got going however when someone asked about my use of the second person in the story. This led onto a discussion of the second person in general, ably fuelled by writer and fellow blogger Adrian Slatcher who had come along. I then read from Too Many Magpies, and was asked, as I was asked recently on the virtual blog tour, about how the novel came about. This led onto discussion of an issue that's recently been aired on author blogs, that of writing 'what you know' versus 'writing other', to which Doug from the reading group contributed. Finally, the question of writers' block was addressed, both in fiction and non-fiction, and blogger and journalist Clare Conlon had useful advice to give.
Clare reviews the evening here (she seems to have enjoyed it!) and is covering the publicity for the festival, which lasts until Sunday. You can find the programme here.