This blog was published back in 2013, but it’s a good reflection on what it feels like being an author attending your first literary festival.
Okay, in social media terms it’s a bit late to post about an event that was held early last month, but as I’ve just made it home from an extended trip this morning, this is the first chance I’ve had to talk about the many fascinating GLBT writers I met as I took part in my first literary festival.
Sergei Boissier‘s book launch party
Two hours before the first function (a book launch for the 11th Annual Saints and Sinners Anthology), I sat having dinner while texting my partner back in Australia, admitting I felt a bit daunted. I even ordered a glass of wine to calm me, which is rare as I seldom drink alone.
But I met a fellow writer leaving my hotel with his friend at the same time as me. Although I’d checked where our first event was being held earlier that day, I still got us lost. A taxi saved the day.
MEETING PEOPLE IS FAB!
During that first full day of Master Classes, I was gaining good tips from my peers and chatting generally about bookish things. I began feeling like a real writer.
What’s great about this festival is that every day there were talks and author reads, while every night there were social events. So while you learned and/or supported your fellow writers as the sun shone, after sunset you really got to know what made them tick.
And as an Australian with an American publisher, it helped me gain better insight into the market. Something that’s hard to do by just sitting idle in my home town.
I made it to a few of these as I wanted to enjoy first hand the various writing styles of those I was getting to know. The reading session I was part of was many shades of entertaining. It ranged from all out raunchy to the incredibly moving.
I admit that I rehearsed for my ten minutes of fame regularly for a whole month before I jumped on my Qantas flight, but it still didn’t stop my nerves as I read. I just kept them well hidden.
As a side note, watch out for Carol Rosenfeld‘s upcoming novel, The One That Got Away. Her reading had the audience in stitches as we lived through the pain of a lesbian late bloomer trying to make some sort of connection with others in a book store.
THE FINAL REVELATION
During the last panel discussion I was taken aback by the last topic of conversation by some of the writers I got to know. They revealed how they look for each other when they come to Saints and Sinners. Why? Because like all writers, they’re shy creatures. They need familiar faces.
So I’m not alone in my social awkwardness with large groups of strangers. It comes with the territory.
HOLLYWOOD SCREEN KISS
Felice Picano, Kevin Klehr and Mary Celeste at final drinks
One regular high profile participant, Felice Picano, was very giving of his time. He went out of his way to meet me at a book store so I could get him to sign his latest work. Sadly, the book store was closed.
When my partner, Warren, joined me in the USA for the last drinks on Sunday afternoon, Felice described our long awaited meeting as a ‘Hollywood screen kiss’. Looking back, I guess he was right.
SO THE MORAL OF THE STORY
If you’re an author with something to offer, get yourself out there and meet your peers. Take a dip and get involved. I have to thank Saints and Sinner’s main organiser, Paul Willis. He was the first to spark my interest in making the long trip from Sydney. I’m so glad I did.