It has been a short while since I have posted anything. Perhaps it is because I needed a bit of a lie down, but maybe it was also because I have been out and about attending book launches in Cambridgeshire. The first one has been a stand out date in my annual diary for years, even before I took to writing about pubs and beer. Yes, from 18th to 20th October here I was, at the legendary St Ives Beer Festival!
Er… ok, I promise I was there. Really I was. In fact I may have been at the bar when that photo was taken. I did work the bar for a shift after all, on the Friday afternoon. Like all CAMRA events, these are run by volunteers and rely on the skills, dedication and enthusiasm of the local CAMRA members. I am a member of Huntingdonshire CAMRA myself and have had great fun working at the festival bar before, so it was a real pleasure serving there for a while. There are several pluses in working a CAMRA festival bar. Firstly, they work on a voucher system so you don’t have to worry about all that pesky money changing hands. Secondly, we are duty bound to have a working knowledge of the beers we are selling so it is a great opportunity to indulge in some research. Also, and not least, the people here, on both sides of the bar, are polite, charming and really pleased to be there. The atmosphere, even for the presently-sober, is quite unique and well-worth coming for. For those in the area who like a good beer, I would heartily recommend saying hello to Hunts CAMRA and see what they are up to next.
Eventually, though I did get to my stall, where I did try and sell, and sign, a few books. The local CAMRA group have been so kind to invite me here this year. They are an excellent set of people and I must note my particular gratitude to Richard Harrison and Juliet Ferris for their continuing support. It has been said that this sort of audience, a beer festival one, is tailor made for me, for the ‘Tales from the Red Lion’ series at least. And so it proved. I didn’t really have to work too hard to explain the point of the books to people who come over and express their curiosity. They have their own pub that they love and recognise the types of characters that I write about who inhabit them. However, there is some evidence that I didn’t mind a good bit of explaining, even if was not required…
Over the three days it all goes really well and I meet loads of new people and hopefully convert a few new fans of Pub Fiction. It was great to see some old friends and makes new ones too, the human ones and the ones found in my pint glass! I would thoroughly recommend this event to those who like good beer, good people or both. Can’t wait for the next one! But not just yet. I did go to bed VERY early after day 3 was over.
Hard on the heels of this event, but just long enough to recover, was a joint book launch that I had arranged with Carol Carman, a fellow-member of the ‘Telling It…’ group. We chose Niche Comics in Huntingdon to launch this, not only because Angela and Guy have been supportive of the group for some years now, and not only because this is a lovely bookshop as well as a comic shop. It is also because this is one of the few independent book stores around this area, and is well-deserving of support. Just like good pubs, there are not enough of these places left, so we should cherish them while they are still here.
Here is me and Carol posing for the camera. I promise that there were also many more people there than those who squeezed into this scene. Carol Carman, was launching ‘Gingerbread Children’, a fantasy novel set in the world of witches and biscuits and not dissimilar to a bit of Terry Pratchett, which is not bad thing at all. When Carol signed a copy of her book for me, she put a cheeky little note of apology that there were not any pubs in her book. In fact, ‘The Lamb and Werewolf’ gets a mention on page one! I can’t help but think how Dan would get on in that place. You can check out McCaw Press for more details of Carol’s book, and I hope you do.
Jamie Delano also joined us that afternoon. Jamie, as well as being the iconic ‘Constantine’ comic book writer, is also a novelist and has performed for the ‘Telling it…’ group a few times too, so it was great to see him again. He also has a new book out, ‘Leepus: River’, the next in his series set in a flooded near-future Inglund. Find out more about this here.
Once we got settled , we all read an extract from our books, then talked about our writing process, and answered questions from the audience. It was a lovely, enthusiastic crowd and one who genuinely seemed to love books and writing. I love afternoons like this. Let’s hope we can all get to more of these, in places like this, in times to come.
Oh, and this chap turned up in my life too.
He may also have proved to be a bit of a distraction. Maybe, though, just maybe he will become an inspiration! I shall be sure to let you know.