I was delighted to be asked to be part of Hayley Webster’s online literary festival. She is an incredibly fine writer of a book I adore, Jar Baby, and she and I have been Twitter buddies for a while now. She makes me laugh and she is clever and she has a heart of gold that sits in the very right place (which is just the best type of heart to have). At the moment I am surrounded by authors doing amazing things to promote fellow authors and their books. I’m involved in a three day extravaganza of crime writing in a couple of weeks (more about that later), called Brit Crime, masterminded by the tireless, passionate and quite frankly awe-inspiring, Helen Smith (more on her later, too) but today it’s all about Hayley’s ‘All The Words Festival’. The idea is simple. Literary festivals are growing in popularity. They are springing up all over the place, giving more and more readers and industry professionals the opportunity to gather, share their love of books and writing, and, of course, socialise. But unless they are very local to you (and I am extremely lucky to have the superb Henley Literary Festival on my doorstep) they can be expensive. By the time you’ve paid for transport, accommodation, entry fees, drinks in the bar, lunch, another drink, supper, maybe, go on then, OK, you’ve twisted me arm, another drink in the bar and then maybe, yes, good idea, one for the road, you begin to hear your wallet groaning in pain as its poor innards are ripped out and handed over. So Hayley and Helen, and others like them, are bringing the essence and joy – the heart of literary festivals – to lovers of the written word in an accessible, comfortable and totally cost-free format. Brit Crime will take place on Facebook and is quite simply a stunning feat of organisation, whilst Hayley has given over a section of her website to host her festival. All The Words includes Q&As with a number of authors and has planned events throughout the day, including coordinated Twitter meet-ups to enable those ‘attending’ to chat and share ideas and their mutual love of books. I am delighted she asked me to be involved. I loved answering her questions and reading those of the other authors in attendance, and I am honoured to be alongside such respected writers as Claire King and Antonia Honeywell among others. So, make yourself comfy, fill a glass or pour some tea, and pop along. Oh, and don’t forget to tell Hayley what a bloody star she is, while you enjoy being part of this lovely, lovely thing.
Long live the written word. Long live All The Words!