Posted in Reading, Writing

Walking on Air at the Cheltenham Literature Festival

BBC Radio Gloucestershire panel guests with DJ
Me, DJ Chris Baxter, Katie Fforde & Simon Sheridan (Photo by Jo Durrant)

By popular request, I’m posting up a link here so that my friends around the world can hear me taking part in a live BBC radio broadcast at Cheltenham Literature Festival on Wednesday 9th October.

(Reproduced here by kind permission of BBC Radio Gloucestershire)

How did my radio appearance come about? I hear you ask. Well, my friend Tanith Harding, founder of Build A Book, put me forward as a panel member for an hour-long current affairs discussion feature on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Chris Baxter Show. I’d met Tanith through my work at Read for Good, and we share a passion for encouraging children to love reading.

The  show was to be broadcast live from the Cheltenham Literature Festival – the world’s biggest event of its kind. BBC Radio Gloucestershire had arranged to broadcast from the Writers’ Room in the Town Hall, sanctuary for the many special guests who appear as part of the Festival. Two other local writers were taking part – the highly successful romantic novelist Katie Fforde, currently President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and popular culture writer Simon Sheridan.

Having assembled in one of the conference rooms, the three of us were ushered by a member of the programme’s production team into a corner of the Writer’s Room. We were tucked behind the bar, out of sight of the authors as they strode in, rattlingcoffee cups and booming out greetings to each other, until they spotted our headphone-wearing, microphone-toting host, DJ Chris Baxter, in full flow.

5, 4, 3, 2…

Another treat at Cheltenham: meeting Sir Tony Robinson, patron of Read for Good (Photo by Clint Randall)
Another Cheltenham treat: meeting Sir Tony Robinson, patron of Read for Good (Photo by Clint Randall)

The hour went quickly as Chris skilfully directed us through a host of literary topics, from child literacy to e-books to self-publishing trends. The debate was lively but always courteous and certainly stimulating.

The hour also included the odd musical interlude and news report, plus a surreal “badger break”, reporting on the county-wide badger cull under way that day in a dubious attempt to contain the spread of bovine TB. These items are not included in the WAV file above.

Talking very fast, I was able to fly the flag for many causes dear to my heart, including the charity Read for Good, home to Readathon and ReadWell; the JDRF, which funds research into a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, and the professional reputation of the self-published author, with reference to the Alliance of Independent Authors. I even managed to get a couple of name-checks for my book promotion handbook, Sell Your Books!

At the end, Chris Baxter invited me to come back another time, to discuss diabetes, and I’m hopeful that he’ll be interested in continuing the discussion about self-publishing and Read for Good too.

And We’re Clear…

Debbie Young in conversation with Sarah McIntyre, Philip Reeve and Nick Sharratt
Still talking non-stop the following Friday night at the Read for Good party, with authors Sarah McIntyre, Philip Reeve and Nick Sharratt (Photo by Clint Randall)

Still deep in conversation with the lovely Katie Fforde even after the show was over, I left the Writers’ Room walking on air (ho ho). I was also rather proud of myself for resisting the urge to call home on my mobile in “hello, I’m on the train” mode, to announce casually “Hello, I’m in the Writers’ Room at the Cheltenham Literature Festival”.

To bring myself back to earth, I stopped for lunch on the way home at the Stroud branch of McDonald’s. Not my usual choice of dining venue, but at least it stopped me getting ideas above my (radio) station.


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

11 thoughts on “Walking on Air at the Cheltenham Literature Festival

    1. Thanks, Laura! 🙂 I surprised myself by not being nervous on the day – I was just so intent on being able to get all my many messages into the interview that I didn’t have time to be anxious about it!

  1. Debbie, what a great day but not sure about the Big Mac experience. I can only assume you were very very hungry! Ali B

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