Saturday May 18th began with a mad dash to the festival hall not the one on the South Bank but the one at Trinity Church Centre, Finchley. All was well until Joe, the caretaker, suddenly announced the baby grand piano would have to be moved between 1-2pm.
What? Lindsay and I both gasped.
Well, it will take six strong men to move it and that's when they're arriving.
But, I squeaked, Our festival starts at 1.30pm.
Joe shrugged, said he'd try and get them there earlier and walked off.
I made a pleading phone call to one of our muscley, male writers, Mark, who said he was happy to help.
We then walked the streets to find a few more fit men, alas, they were all over 85 with bad backs. Lindsay grunted a bit but on the whole stayed surprising calm.
People were beginning to arrive for Josie Pearse's excellent workshop 'Life Writing and the Writing Life', so we showed them into the room that would double as our Green Room and Book Room. Once they were safely settled, we began organising the chairs in the main festival hall (leaving a huge gap for the piano), as well as flowers, tables, and posters on the walls. Our Mic man arrived and not only did he safely set up an excellent microphone and speaker, he also rearranged the curtains so we had less light in the wrong places and also organised the removal of the piano. And what fun that was, six men and a piano, it's certainly was the stuff of fiction. Legs and bottoms were removed and the poor baby grand was tipped on its side whilst being manoevred outside into the lobby where it was tipped back and rolled into the main church hall. Phew!
CJ talked very honestly about her real life family and how they had inspired some of the characters in her young adult fiction Infinite Sky. It was fascinating hearing how she had made certain decisions, setting the landscape in a real-life farm and using parental moral boundaries for one of her characters.
Leigh Russell, frightened us out of our wits with her superbly acted, 'something really did happen to me, something I haven't talked about before', and how a real walk and a real creepy man in a park, had inspired her first crime thriller Cut Short.
During the introduction I had introduced the theme of the festival by
|Linda Louisa Dell|
started writing the fictional, Ways of Remembering, on the MA in Writing at Middlesex University. But only because I had been told I could not write autobiography. Go somewhere else if you want to do that, said the tutor. And because I have an unusual background, I stupidly thought I would be recognised in a fictional autobiography and unlike one other writer, who took absolutely no notice of the published tutor and continued writing her autobiographical short stories. I, as was mentioned at the festival, did as I was told for the first and only time in my life and began writing fiction. At first I was really annoyed but then the characters began to grow, I had images in my head and bits of dialogue. I began writing, notes at first and then drafts of the first chapter, then the second and so on. And what I discovered was the amazing freedom that writing lies, untruths, fiction, brings with it. That is not to say that bits of truth, bits of my life, did not make an appearance, they did. Real people that I had loved and lost suddenly appeared wanting a relationship with me, not one we had had in real life but an imagined one, with obstacles even in fiction that prevented our unreal lives going forward.
One of the aims of Greenacre Writers is to support new writers, Mark Kitchenham, made his first appearance at this festival, closing the first session with one of his short stories.
Three more readings from Greenacre Writers followed. Liz Goes read from the third of her fictionalized memoirs The Not Quite English Teacher, Mumpuni Murniati read her short story rooted in her native Indonesia and
|Members of the audience|
|Truth and fiction panel discussion.|
We were also very pleased to announce that Alex Wheatle will be our judge for this year's short story competition. You can find out how to enter here: Greenacre Writers 2013 Short Story Competition
|Emily Benet, a speaker last year|
|Andrew Bradford in the book room|
Emily Benet and Andrew Bradford speakers from last year, were in the audience, as was Morgen Bailey who did an in-depth write-up of the afternoon.
It really was a fantastic two days, only made possible by the generosity of our Greenacre Writers who worked hard behind the scenes, Robert and Elisabeth Newton (bouncer :) and bow-maker), Mark and Elaine Kitchenham who persuaded Waitrose to donate some delicious food, our lovely Chris who provided a delicious supper at the now famous Friern Barnet Library Open Mic and who somehow baked hundreds of cakes, Linda and Liz who managed the book tables, the kindness of our speakers without whom we would not have had a festival, Murni who made the most delicious spring rolls, our audience and finally Lindsay, who despite being unwell managed to co-host in her usual professional manner.
Next year we are hoping to launch the first Finchley Literary Festival, so if you're local to Finchley and the surrounding area, published, and would like to get involved, let us know. (David Nicholls?) But first, I have to Start That Novel all over again - the six week course that ran earlier this year will be running again in September, as will the first Greenacre Writers Retreat, oh and I have two Finish That Novel's, and a short story, goodness me, and something else - September 5th, the launch of The Library That Wouldn't Close: the story of Friern Barnet Library. Where? In the famous library of course! 7pm - see you there.
To read more about the festival see: Greenacre Writers
For a really detailed account, read Morgen Bailey