Since the The Secret Lake first came out back in 2011 it’s been heartwarming to see just how far industry attitudes towards self-publishing have evolved. We’re now entering a period where the lines are truly beginning to blur in the minds of booksellers, the press, event organisers and publishers when it comes to deciding what makes a good read, and where the next big thing readers will want might come from. This change in perceptions from the people who help introduce readers to new authors and put books in readers’ hands is undoubtedly good news for all involved.
It’s therefore with perhaps less surprise than I might once have anticipated that I’m thrilled to announce my inclusion in the inaugural Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, which takes place on Saturday 25 April in southwest London.
Barnes Children’s Literature Festival
As you may be able to see from above, this festival – organised by book publicist and local mum of two girls, Amanda Brettargh – is thinking big. It includes a fantastic line-up of award-winning authors for children of all ages – so if you’re within reach of southwest London and have children aged from 3-12 I’d highly recommend coming along.
Barnes village lies a mile or so south of Hammersmith Bridge. It’s a lovely place to spend the day – we have our very own duck pond and village green, plenty of cafes, delis, family-friendly pubs and restaurants, the river Thames at the top of the high street and one of the coolest cinemas in London – on which more below!
So who will be there …?
Well, here are just a few tasters… (you’ll find a link to the full programme below)
- Multi-award-winning picture-book author, Chris Haughton – not only will he be bringing his fabulous picture books to life at his own session, there’s also the UK premiere of the stage production of his award-winning picture book ‘A Bit Lost’
- Picture book illustrator Alex Scheffler – of Gruffalo fame – say no more!
- Abbie Longstaff – author of The Fairytale Hairdresser series
- Sally Gardner –award winning author of ‘Maggot Moon’ – at the festival she’ll be talking about what makes a good detective and her fairy detective series ‘Wings & Co’
- Author-illustrator David Mackintosh – who’ll be drawing as well as reading from his latest book ‘Lucky’
- Marcia Williams – author of the acclaimed ‘Archie’s War’ – a child’s scrapbook of the First World War
- Jim Smith – author of ‘I am not a loser’ series
- Piers Torday – introducing his new novel ‘The Wild Beyond’ – the final in his trilogy
- Horrible Histories® illustrator Martin Brown
- Britain’s favourite poet and local resident Roger McGough who has even penned a poem for the festival!
There will also be book-to-film cinema events curated by Guardian film critic, Danny Leigh, at the ultra cool Olympic Studios. And Julia Eccleshare, children’s books editor of The Guardian, will be interviewing teenage author Helena Coggan.
For my own part, I’ll be introducing 7-10 year-olds to my popular graphic novel Eeek! The Runaway Alien – you can find out more about my session here
The above really is just a sample – see the full programme and book tickets here. (All ticket sale proceeds go to charity.)
Making the cut: thanks to my local bookshops & schools
Needless to say I’m both proud and honoured to be part of the festival. And while being a local author clearly helped, I am in no doubt that this alone was by no means enough. I earned my place through my track record, which in turn is inextricably linked to the support I’ve had locally.
Those of you who follow my blog will know that I regularly take my books into schools in southwest London and have hosted many signing events in local bookshops and Waterstones (one of the UK’s main bookshop chains) – all of whom have been incredibly receptive and have stocked my books from the outset, often placing them face-out with shelf-talkers that I supply.
The success of my signing events and school visits, coupled with strong sales more widely – especially for The Secret Lake – speak for themselves. Without this track record and all the hard work it has entailed over the last few years I am in no doubt that entry to the festival would not have been possible.
So I’d like to say thank you to the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival – and to southwest London yet again – for giving me this next opportunity. And thank you to my local bookshops, notably The Barnes Bookshop (through which my festival sales will pass), Sheen Books, Wimbledon Books and seven branches of Waterstones in southwest London. Also thanks to so many local schools for having me in and to the local press for so often sharing my stories. But most of all, thank you to my young readers, both near and far!
Festivals and book fairs of the future
With Foyles Bookshop hosting the Indie Author Fair at their flagship store in Charing Cross on 17 April as part of London Book and Screen Week and Debbie Young hosting the inaugural Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival on World Book Night 23 April we are already seeing a shift in the nature and landscape of literature festivals. (Not forgetting, of course, the Indie Author Fringe Festival that ran alongside the Chorleywood Literary Festival last November).
So here’s to bookshops, litfest organisers and authors themselves for helping reshape the future of book selling in this brave new world. I’m sure we all agree that these changes are for everyone’s benefit – author, reader and bookseller alike.
Getting to Barnes
If you’re on public transport it’s a five-minute bus ride or 20-minute walk from Hammersmith Tube, or a five-minute walk from Barnes or Barnes Bridge over-ground stations. If you’re driving you’ll find parking in the streets a few minutes walk away from the immediate central village area.