One of the real privileges of being a published author is the opportunity to take part in a wide variety of festivals and other public events - a chance to talk about books with like-minded people! I really enjoy the experience - all the more so if I can turn it into a little trip, perhaps exploring somewhere interesting that I'm not familiar with, as well as doing the event. And I've just come back from my first visit to Oundle in Northamptonshire, which was great fun.
The Oundle Festival of Literature has been going strong for twenty years. It's become an all-year-round festival, rather than being concentrated into a frenetic few days at just one time of year. This is an interesting model and one that seems to work very well. I enjoyed meeting the Chair, Helen Shair, and also taking a quick look round the ancient market town. Even on a very cold day, Oundle's charm was apparent. So was its history. I don't really know Northamptonshire, but I was impressed with what I saw.
A particular pleasure came from the fact that three friends turned up to listen. One of them, Gordon Smith, I was at school with from the age of eleven - but since leaving school, we've only met once, at a reunion eight years ago, so it was an unexpected treat to chat to him. The others were Clint Stacey, a fellow writer and also a fellow collector of crime fiction, and Jasmine Simeone, who edits the Dorothy L. Sayers Society Bulletin amongst other things.
I was interviewed by Karen Daber and the time flew by. I have to admit, though, that a talk by Karen herself would surely be at least as interesting as anything I could ever manage. She's had a distinguished and fascinating career as a senior black police officer, whose duties included royal personal protection, and amongst other roles she is currently a Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire. It was great to talk to her and also to meet the booksellers from the splendid Oundle Bookshop as well as a variety of local readers. I may never have been to Oundle before, but I hope to explore it further on another occasion.