Once again an outstanding day with a delightful selection of authors displaying a rainbow of talents. Steve Mosby and Sadie Jones took the hardest slot when people had only just arrived and were feeling their way into the day. When crime aficionado Steve confessed he found character easy but plot hard, Sadie’s instant reaction was, “But you’ve chosen the hardest genre to write in then!”. She, very self-effacingly, said her first two books were “not at all funny” – hardly a texbook example of author as self-promoter. In her defence, I should point out – having read both books – they may not be comedies but they are very good books.
Just as the session was drawing to a close a voice from the dark asked why one of said books had characterised the residents of Surrey – and, I think, Guildford in particular – as “dysfunctional drinkers”. Sadie defused the implication gracefully but with hindsight there was no pantomime response from the rest of the audience, “Oh no, we’re not!”.
Katharine McMahon took us back to books of our youth, reminding us that the work of Monica Dickens contained what might have been seen as a template for Downton Abbey and, with the simple mention of the concept of the Bolter, evoked a mass love-in for the novels of Nancy Mitford.
In the afternoon, James Runcie stole the show with his tale of the editor who had forgotten that he’d read James’s book. Only when the plot was being discussed did the penny drop, at which point he might have more usefully kept his mouth shut. Suffice to say, this person is no longer James’s editor.
Recurrent themes were 50 Shades of Grey – which no one seemed to have read??? – Kindles and the desirability thereof, the future of the book industry and – phew! - our agreement that there would always be an appetite for a story well-told. By which time it was time to exeunt, stage left to claim the goody bag and leave in search of some of the many books that had been recommended during the day.
Thanks to all involved, not least Karen Weatherly and her team of volunteer stewards.