‘The difference between a published author and an unpublished one is that the former didn’t give up.’ These words were said to me at the book fair showcasing local writers, the first of its kind, held at Hull Central Library.
Among other cultural pursuits on Saturday, I attended the book fair organised by local historian Mike Ulyatt. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of different authors in the space and the atmosphere was engaging.
With each passing generation there’s an increasing need to tell stories that relate directly to our place in the world: stories real or imagined, your own or that of someone else.
I met new faces and spoke with a number of authors from different genre and backgrounds. If truth be told it was good to see the little green Toad Tales – in which I have a vested interest – holding its own, amongst all the true-life, romance, fantasy, offbeat drama and local history titles. I came away with many brochures and leaflets for further investigation.
Representing Valley Press was Sue Wilsea – I spied the excellent A Family Behind Glass anthology by the equally excellent Matthew Hedley Stoppard – regular readers will remember a stand-out set Matthew did for the Awake gig in June this year. Read Live Review Here.
Sue, with just one copy of her book Staying Afloat on the table, was benevolently representing the entire stable of Valley Press authors. She was also promoting her new theatre-work Take Back Your Freedom. A show about the remarkable life of Cottingham born Winifred Holtby, whose best known novel South Riding, is still in print eighty years after its publication. suewilsea.co.uk
When Sue informed me about Hull Literary Lunches, I had to admit I’d not heard of them. Apparently they advertise forthcoming events on local BBC Radio and in the HDM, organiser Mike Ulyatt explained to me, but this particular cultural nugget has until now, eluded me. The next author to be served up for the Literary Lunch, will be Hull University alumni and Hull 2017 Chair Rosie Millard, talking about her debut novel The Square.
Moving on I spoke with a lady representing Linda Acaster, the author of the Celtic Goddess Trilogy a time slip fantasy series set locally… and whoever has my copy of the first in the series, Torc of Moonlight, I wouldn’t mind it back thank you. lindaacaster.com
In an unusual first for a book fair I undertook a compatibility test by Mark Stillman author of Stalker, Bunny, Saucepan. I recall the last of the questions enquired as to whether drink is really the answer. I responded without hesitation, ‘Almost always it is.’ thus dispelling any thoughts Mark was having, about Hull being a city of tee-totallers. keephuman.co.uk
I had a lovely chat with first time author Anna Bransgrove. Courageously taking on Jane Eyre and creating a new story to bring Simple Dame Fairfax to life.
We both agreed as to the import of events such as these and of libraries across the city, carrying local authors’ titles on their bookshelves. To be read is fundamental to all writers, that is all we want. Financial reward if it comes, is welcomed but as Hull’s Russ Litten explained just the other week, just 500 sales of a new title from an independent publisher may well be deemed a successful run. No-one is about to get rich quick, that’s not why they do it.
Ada’s Terrace a romantic wartime drama set in Hull during the blitz and written by Margaret King, immediately reminded me of the recent play Echoes . The title reminded me once again about the places that exist entirely in the memory now, having been lost to the unsympathetic surge of modernisation. Places like Arundel Street in East Hull brought vividly back to the here and now by Maurice Fairfield and lovingly published by ThisisUll. Read Here.
Talking with Louise Beech author of How To Be Brave, we mused on the numerous books on show and on sale, that involved water in some way: including her own. I surmised it may be due to the close proximity of the Humber, the coastline and the fact Hull is so tied up in maritime history.
Indeed late-on at the book fair I saw Brian Lavery being interviewed by Estuary TV, whose own book The Headscarf Revolutionaries was released amidst much ballyhoo early Summer. I came away with a signed copy of the book that tells the story of the formidable Hessle Road women who, in the light of the Triple Trawler Tragedy of 1968, took on parliament and won. brianwlavery.com
There were more than a few names notably absent from today’s event, but in a bid to support local authors it was a good start.
I leave you with one last thought. Could Hull be doing more to support new writers and writing? Should writers have more access to opportunities and platforms, commissions, awards… anything that raises the awareness of, and supports in a sustainable and meaningful way, storytellers from our corner of the world.