Posted in Events, Writing

An Eventful June

A round-up of what I’ve been up to this month.

Bleddfa Centre Self-publishing Workshop (16th June)

This month I was delighted to revisit the beautiful Bleddfa Centre near Knighton in Wales. It’s an inspiring setting for creative activity, and perfect for the self-publishing workshop that I’d been invited to run there with fellow authors David Penny and Katharine E Smith who also runs Heddon Publishing, a self-publishing services company.

Photo of David Penny, Debbie YOung and Katharine E Smith
David Penny and Katharine E Smith enjoyed the day as much as I did

Together we provided an eager group of delegates with an overview of how to become an independent author, drawing on our own extensive experience, and with much reference to the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), of which we are all members and of which I’m UK Ambassador. I was especially pleased to meet John Musgrave, who had been on another publishing course there two years before, there I had spoken about self publishing. He had since joined ALLi, self published his first book and had more in the pipeline.

I’m kicking myself for forgetting to take any photos of the gorgeous setting, but the expressions on our faces in the photo above taken by event organiser Caroline Sanderson, author, journalist and Bleddfa Centre trustee, at the end of the day, shows how much David and Catherine and I enjoyed ourselves.

Do take a moment to check out the Bleddfa Centre’s website for the details of further arts events in their programme. It’s always good to have an excuse to go there.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club (26th June)

On this month’s show, the usual gang – lunchtime presenter Dominic Cotter, fellow panelist Caroline Sanderson (yes, the same Caroline as at Bleddfa – she’s everywhere!) and I discussed The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.

Photo of Debbie and Caroline with The Salt Path by Raynor Winn at the BBC Radio Gloucestershire studio
Shame I had my eyes closed for Dominic’s photo!

The book is an extraordinary tale of a middle-aged couple whose way of dealing with a double crisis – bankruptcy and the diagnosis of terminal illness for Rayner’s husband Moth – is to backpack and wild camp their way around the south-west coastal path. In turns poignant, shocking, funny and lyrical, this is an unforgettable memoir of triumph over adversity and the redemptive power of nature. It is also beautifully written. Caroline and I had the good fortune to attend one of Raynor Winn’s many speaking engagements, organised at the Nailsworth Quaker Meeting House by the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop a couple of months ago, and we can confirm that she speaks as beautifully as she writes.

As always on Dominic’s show we talked about all manner of bookish things, and also chose next month’s book, Daniel Defoe’s seminal Robinson Crusoe, arguably the first English novel and inspiration for so many further works from The Swiss Family Robinson to Lost in Space to Desert Island Discs. I can’t wait to see what we all make of it when we reconvene at noon on Wednesday 24th July.

In the meantime, you can catch the show on iplayer here – Book Club starts eight minutes into the show, just after the news. And if you’d like to track down a Raynor Winn talk near you, her current schedule is below – and you can find out the latest news on her Twitter account at @Raynor_Winn.

graphic of cover of The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and list of her coming talks

Evesham Festival of Words (27th June)

At the time of writing, this event has yet to come! Tomorrow night I’l be chairing a panel of crime writers as part of the Evesham Festival of Words, with a fabulous trio of authors: David Penny (yes, as at Bleddfa, above!) who writes historical thrillers set in medieval Moorish Spain; Barry Faulkner, who writes contemporary police procedural novels; and Angela Buckley, who writes true crime. We’ll be discussing all different kinds of crime fiction, past, present and future, both as professional writers and as avid readers. The event is at 7pm in the enticing setting of Evesham Rowing Club on the banks of a beautiful stretch of the River Avon. Tickets are still available at £7.50, so if you are in town, do please come along on the night – it would be great to see you!

Photo of Evesham Rowing Club
Evesham Rowing Club is the congenial setting for our Crime Panel discussion

In Between Times: Lots of Writing!

I love doing events like this and am always open to invitations – so if you would like me to speak at an event for you, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m now taking bookings from mid-July onwards. At the moment I have no bookings for July and am looking forward to spending lots of time with my daughter, now on an extended holiday from school after completing her GCSE exams.

It’s also been good to have space to catch up with online activity, including this delightful review on YouTube of Best Murder in Show by vlogger J P Choquette.

However I’m also pleased when I can space them out in the diary to allow plenty of writing time – and this month I’m thrilled that I managed not only to finalise the manuscript of my next novel, Secrets at St Bride’s, due to launch next month, but also to write an 11,000 word short novella, The Pride of Peacocks, a bonus extra to my Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series, and which also segues into the world of the new series! Also coming soon is the new audiobook of Best Murder in Show, narrated by Siobhan Waring, who I thought was the perfect voice for Sophie Sayers.

Thanks to my designer Rachel Lawston for creating the required square cover for the audiobook!

If you’d like to get an email telling you when Secrets at St Bride’s and the new audiobook of Best Murder in Show are available – and also to receive a free ebook of The Pride of Peacocks next month (it’s an exclusive gift for members of my mailing list – not available to buy in shops!), just leave your email address in the form below, and I’ll add you to my list.

Cover of Secrets at St Bride's by Debbie Young
Coming in July – join my mailing list to receive notification when it’s available to order

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Posted in Events, Self-publishing, Writing

Looking Forward to June Events

A preview of my public events in June

I thought it might be helpful and, I hope, interesting, if I share a post at the start of each month previewing any imminent public events that I’m involved in. Then at the end of the month I’ll report back on them.

Although I realise that most people reading these posts won’t be able to attend these events in person due to their location,  if you do manage to get to any,  please come and find me and say hello – I’d love to see you  in real life! 

Self-publishing: A Complete How-To Guide (Saturday 16th June)

On Sunday 16th June, I’ll be joining two other successful indie authors and great friends of mine, Katharine E Smith and David Penny, to teach an exclusive one-day course in self-publishing in the beautiful and inspiring setting of the Bleddfa Centre near Knighton in Wales.

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to return to this peaceful place, where I very much enjoyed being on the panel of a more general publishing day a couple of years ago.

The rural setting is idyllic, and the standard of catering superb – a combination highly conducive to learning!

Drawing on our own experience as authors, publishers and marketers, we’ll be sharing practical guidance, top tips and moral support, as well as debunking popular misconceptions about the exciting possibilities that self-publishing offers the independent author – and indeed to those who contracts with publishing companies. This blog post I wrote for the Bleddfa Centre tells you a little more about those possibilities.

With a limited number of places available, this course will be an intensive but highly accessible event providing the perfect opportunity for aspiring authors to ask questions about their own ambitions and plans, and to receive specific guidance from experts, whatever stage they are at in their writing and publishing journey.

Find out more and reserve your place at the Bleddfa Centre’s website.

Crime Panel at Evesham Festival of Words (Thursday 27th June)

Later this month I’ll be returning to the Evesham Festival of Words, where I’ve spoken several times before. This year my role is to chair a fun discussion about the nature of crime-writing, from cosy to dark, from fact to fiction, in the company of three distinguished and entertaining authors:

  • historical mystery writer David Penny (yes, the same David Penny who’ll be joining me at Bleddfa!)

We’ll be convening at the pleasant setting of Evesham Rowing Club, down by the river (I presume!) to discuss what makes great crimewriting, to considerwhy it’s enduringly popular, and taking questions from the audience. We’ll also each read an extract from our work to showcase the variety that we offer between us.

I’ve spoken alongside all of three of my fellow panellists at other events, and I can tell you they are all sparkling company – so expect a lively, accessible and intriguing conversation with serious moments but plenty of laughs!

Find out more about the busy Festival programme and how to book tickets here.

Plus all the regular events…

Although the BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club usually broadcasts from the Gloucester studio, we occasionally take it out on the road – or in this case to the canalside presenter Dominic Cotter took this photo of Caroline and me with canalboat skipper Pete, with the perfect reading matter for anyone interested in messing about in boats!

Every month, three further events feature in my diary:

  1. The BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club show, hosted by lunchtime presenter Dominic Cotter. on which I’m a regular panellist, alongside fellow local author Caroline Sanderson. For an hour live on air, usually the first hour of the show (which starts at noon), we discuss our chosen book of the month, book-related news and local literary events. It’s always great fun, and you can always listen online for 28 days after the show if you don’t catch it live. In June, our Book of the Month will be Raynor Winn’s inspiring memoir of walking the south west coastal path with her seriously ill husband, The Salt Path, and in July we’ll discuss Daniel Defoe’s classic Robinson Crusoe – so two very different adventure stories for summer reading! Here’s a link to last month’s show, in which we discussed Angie Thomas’s stunning YA novel The Hate U Give: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p077r655 The date of our next Book Club slot is Wednesday 26th June from noon.
  2. The Bristol Authors’ Alliance – the monthly group for writers that I host for sharing best practice and moral support at the very pleasant Foyles bookshop at Cabot Circus. To find out about meetings and to join our group, visit our Meetup page here: https://www.meetup.com/Bristol-Authors-Alliance/ We meet on the first Wednesday of each month from 6pm until 7.45pm in Foyles, so this month’s meeting is Wednesday 5th June.
  3. The Cheltenham Authors’ Alliance – another writers’ group that I host along the same lines at the ever-hospitable Anthology Bookshop in Suffolk Parade, Cheltenham. For more information about to join our group, visit this Meetup page: https://www.meetup.com/Cheltenham-Alliance-of-Independent-Authors/ . We meet on the third Tuesday of each month from 10.30am until 12.15pm.

Both the writers’ groups are so popular that for reasons of space I’ve had to restrict the number of places at each meeting – not least to make sure we have enough chairs to go round! Therefore it’s essential to reserve a place in advance. I also give priority to members of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)*, the global nonprofit organisation that helps authors all over the world share best practice, campaign for writing-related causes, access helpful discounts, deals and benefits, and share friendship and camaderie with fellow writers, 24/7/365. If you’re not already a member when you join our group, you’ll almost certainly want to join it by the time you leave your first meeting!

(*The link above is my affiliate link, which means if you join ALLi once you’ve clicked on it, I’ll receive a small reward from ALLi. So thank you for that!)

So – that’s it for this month. I’ll report back on how it all goes at the end of the June!

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Posted in Events, Personal life, Reading, Writing

Quick! Before We Run Out of May…

photo of abundant May blossom on hawthorn hedge
May blossom at my favourite time of year

…How I’ve Spent Most of Mine

In between pulling over on impulse at various points on various journeys to take photos of the gorgeous spring views in the Cotswolds, I’ve had a packed calendar of events, the weight and complexity of which has scuppered my plan at the start of this month to post a weekly uupdate on what I’ve been up to. So I’ve decided in future to do this just once a month, in a single post at the end of each month. Today’s post will fill you in on how I spent the second half of May, having published a couple of posts earlier about the first half. Well, I did say I have been busy.

I will still try to post here weekly, including the monthly columns I write for our two local magazines, plus anything else that strikes me as possibly of interest to you.

My First Twitterchat (14th May)

I confess I barely knew this was a thing before, but when Tim Lewis, who runs a weekly Twitterchat for the Alliance of Independent Authors, asked me to feature as a guest to speak about running a literature festival, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to promote my beloved Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival (HULF)!

promotional image for my Twitterchat

“What is a Twitterchat?” I hear you cry. It’s a conversation on Twitter, identified by a specific hashtag , in this case #IndieAuthorChat. It takes place at at set time – in this case 8pm-9pm London time. The host asks a series of questions and the guest answeres, but anyone else may join the conversation by searching for and applying to their own tweets the required hashtag. Tim explains at greater length in a post on the ALLi blog here.

The hour flew by, and even though as Tim instructed I had carefully prepared lots of ready-made answers and photos, I felt like I was typing fast enough to melt the keyboard for the whole hour. As well as enjoying talking about HULF, and encouraging other authors to consider setting up something similar themselves, I made some great new friends.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club (15th May)

This month we were discussing the young adult book that everyone has been talking about lately – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Show presenter Dominic Cotter, fellow guest Caroline Sanderson and I all have teenage daughters, each of which had identified this as a must-read, and we finally caught up with it! It tells the story of a girl living in a poor black of the USA, riddled with drug dealing and violent crime, and how she finds the strength to cope with the aftermath of the shooting of two innocent friends – and to campaign for reform. It’s an incredibly powerful book on so many levels – an engrossing read (although it took me a chapter or two to tune into the dialect and slang) with a tremendous sense of place and beautifully drawn, memorable characters, as well as politically important and empowering. We all felt it will become a timeless classic, and, we hope, instrumental in bringing about change in the real world. Read it!

And if you’d like to tune into the show to hear what else we had to say about this and other book-related topics, such as HULF, you can catch it on iplayer till mid June via this link. Book Club is the first hour of the lunchtime slot, and starts about 10 minutes into the show.

Next month’s Book Club choice is Raynor Winn’s memoir The Salt Path, and the show will be live from noon on Wednesday 26th June.

Our BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club recommendations for May and June

Captain Swing & the Blacksmith (17th May)

I was thrilled to have the chance to see my first ever Folk Opera, based on a wonderful book I was sent to review a couple of years ago – Beatrice Parvin‘s Captain Swing and the Blacksmith, a historical novel set at the time of rural riots against the mechanisation of farming with the introduction of the threshing machine. The book came with a CD of the folk songs that inspired it, and this show took the whole to its natural conclusion with a dramatic presentation through readings, songs and instrumental music, all in the delightful rural setting of Avebury‘s Social Centre, a tiny hall a stone’s throw from the, er, stones – the mysterious standing stones of Avebury. What better way to spend a sunny spring evening? I liked it so much I also bought a music CD from the accordionist’s band, not least because he is featured playing it in Hugo, one of my favourite films.

Captain Swing and the Blacksmith Folk Opera Cast

Oakwood Literature Festival (18th May)

The next day I had an early start to drive to Oakwood, a suburb of Derby, where my author friend Dawn Brookes was organising her second Oakwood Lit Fest, which she’s created on a similar model to Hawkesbury’s. Last year I had fun as keynote speaker, and this year I chaired a panel talking about the nature of Cosy Crime Fiction – what it is and why it’s so popular. On the panel with me were Dawn, who writes mysteries set aboard cruise ships, and Wendy H Jones, who writes both cosy and dark crime novels. I also enjoyed talking about my Sophie Sayers series at a Meet the Author event in the local library.

promotional banner for the Cosy Mystery panel event

Stroud Short Stories (19th May)

Next evening I was Stroud-bound, this time thankfully to sit in the audience and enjoy someone else doing the work! I’m an occasional judge for the twice-yearly Stroud Short Stories event, which culminates in ten authors reading their short stories before a live audience. This was the first time in a new venue, the Cotswold Playhouse, which, like the previous venue, was sold out for the event, despite being twice the capacity! The stories were all so scintillating, and the readings so magnficent, that many in the audience, myself included, declared this to be the best yet. I was also pleased to discover the venue, which I’d never been to before – they have a great programme of shows at affordable ticket prices all year round, and I suspect I’ll be back there again soon, possibly for the Bristol Old Vic students’ rendition of The Canterbury Tales on 4th July.

Cheltenham Authors’ Alliance (21st May)

A much-needed day at home was followed by my monthly trip to Cheltenham to host my Cheltenham Authors’ Alliance writers’ group in the delightful Suffolk Anthology bookshop. As ever, it was a lively discussion about everybody’s news and questions and issues of the moment, and although it was exhausting after such a busy month, it’s always lovely to see everyone there and to help them make progress with their own writing lives. When one member very kindly described me afterwards as his guardian angel, it gave me enough spring in my step to drive home safely!

Wotton-under-Edge Arts Festival Meeting (22nd May)

Just about still able to string a sentence together, next night I’d agreed to meet a representative of this festival that takes place at our nearest market town, just three miles away. Next year will be their 50th Festival, and at HULF one of their committee approached me to ask whether we might provide a literary event as an outreach for them next year. I was honoured to be asked (not least because Wotton is about five times the size of Hawkesbury!) and enjoy and hour’s brainstorming meeting with Anne Robinson, who is going to take our ideas to the next committee meeting and develop things from there.

Matilda the Musical (27th May)

And finally I wound up my hectic month with a treat – well, my teenage daughter’s birthday treat, actually! A trip to the Bristol Hippodrome to see Tim Minchin’s wonderful stage musical rendition of Roald Dahl‘s classic children’s book, Matilda. I love Matilda with a passion. You may remember I made a model of her for our village scarecrow trail last autumn, when she manned my Little Free Library for a week. I can’t bear to throw her away, so now she’s taken up residence in the reading nook in my dining room.

photo of Matilda scarecrow with Little Free Library
Matilda loves my Little Free Library!

We first saw the show when it launched at Stratford-upon-Avon, prior to its London run, and loved every moment – and this was sufficiently long ago that we had forgotten a lot of the detail, so it was still really fresh to us. It is an astonishing show, enjoyable on so many levels – the story, the music, the ingenious lyrics, the choreography and the sentiments – and will be loved by adults and children alike. If you have the chance to see it, do – you won’t regret it.

Guest Posts

I was pleased to be interviewed by Rachel McCollin for her blog here:

Interview with Debbie Young, Cozy Mystery Writer

And to be quoted again on her blog the following week when she was polling authors about where they get their inspiration – you can read that post here:

How to Get Writing Inspiration?

I love doing guest posts and interviews so was pleased to be invited this week by printing giant IngramSpark, to write a series of blog posts for their website, aimed at other indie writers.

What About the Writing?

Somehow – and I’m not entirely sure how – in between all of this frenzy of activity, I managed to finish my final edit of my new novel, which has now been despatched to my invaluable editor Alison Jack. I also decided in a lightbulb moment to change the title from Flat Chance – A Staffroom at St Bride’s Mystery to Secrets at St Bride’s – A School Mystery for Grown-ups. It’s a fun mashup of romantic comedy, mystery and satire, aimed at all those who grew up hooked on traditional school stories for children, such as Malory Towers and the Chalet School series. The cover is now with my talented designer for amendment (sorry to make extra work for you, Rachel Lawston!) It will also be the first in a new series.

I also signed off the audio files for my first audiobook novel, which will be of the first in the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series.

New Writing Projects

Today I started writing a new Sophie Sayers novella which will be given free of charge to everyone on my mailing list. (If you haven’t yet signed up, you can do so using the form at the bottom of this post.) I’m hoping this will be ready in August.

Then I’ll be writing the sixth Sophie Sayers Village Mystery, Murder Your Darlings, set at a writers’ retreat on Ithaca, at which Sophie inadvertently won a free place back in Best Murder in Show.

After that I’ll be alternating between the two series in future, and publishing at least one book in each series each year, if not more. St Bride’s #2, Stranger at St Bride’s, in which an American gentleman turns up claiming the estate is rightfully his, as a descendant of the (supposedly childless) founder, will be my autumn writing project.

Book Reviews Always Welcome!

In the meantime, if you’d like to spur me on, and you’ve read and enjoyed any of my books, it would make me very happy if you could spare a moment to leave a brief review online somewhere.

New reviews help books get discovered among the masses of novels out there in the world, and your support could make a real difference to my sales.

Like to Join My Mailing List?

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Posted in Events, Reading, Writing

Ali Smith, CrimeFest & Partners in Crime

Selfie of Debbie Young, Alison Morton, & David Penny
CrimeFest is a great place to network with fellow crime-writers such as my author chums Alison Morton and David Penny.

Last week went by in a bit of a blur for me, but included attending two very enjoyable events that you might like to know about.

I must admit after having spent a large part of this year so far organising the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, it was bliss for me to attend events as a member of the audience, and to sit back and enjoy myself rather than rushing about making things happen.

Ali Smith at Tetbury Book Fest

The week kicked off with the new Tetbury Book Fest, run by the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop at the delightful Tetbury Goods Shed, a small-scale events space on the site of the former and sympathetically converted former Tetbury railway station. This Cotswold market town, just a few miles up the road from me, was filled with party atmosphere, its annual Wacky Races event, in which locals race home-made go-carts around its street, having taken place a little earlier that day.

At Tetbury, I really enjoyed a talk by Ali Smith, one of the country’s most highly-regarded authors. She doesn’t do many public events like this, but the Yellow-Lighted’s ever-persuasive Hereward managed to lure her along. She was there to talk about her latest book, Spring, but it was also inspiring to hear her talk about her love of books and reading,

cover of Spring by Ali Smith
The third in Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet of novels

“My books are nothing to do with me once I’ve finished them,” she said. “Books belong to us all individually as well as communally.”

She passionately advocated rereading books – a great excuse for those who, like me, like to keep books they’ve enjoyed in case they want to return to them later.

“Books are different to us on rereading ten years later,” she observed, and I completely agree.

I was also chuffed to learn a new word from her: intertextuality. This means the act of referring to other texts within a book. I do that a lot in my Sophie Sayers series (Sophie works in a bookshop), mostly for comic effect, but it’s pleasing to know there’s a formal name for it.

I didn’t take a photo of Ali because she is very shy and it would have felt intrusive, but I had a nice chat with her while she was signing her book for me, and was pleased to be able to tell her that the previous week I’d been with Dr Gerri Kimber, whom she thanks in the acknowledgements section of Spring, when she came to speak at the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival about Katherine Mansfield, referenced in her book.

CrimeFest

My week ended with four days in a big Bristol hotel at CrimeFest, a huge international writing conference that draws authors and readers from all over the world. The hotel felt a bit like a crime scene itself, with stripes of colour-coded tape stuck to the carpets to guide you through winding corridors and deserted ballrooms to specific events. I would not have been surprised to find a chalk outline of a body along the way.

As well as a tempting bookshop, there was a stall selling crime-related props designed for use at murder mystery parties or launches of crime novels. The closest they had to a real weapon was a chocolate gun, but much as I love chocolate, even that made me shudder whenI heard the vendor saying breezily “Kids love them”. I really don’t want to see a child with a chocolate gun in its mouth. Ugh.

The CrimeFest programme is packed, with several strands of events running simultaneously all day long. In between socialising with crimewriting friends, I attended the following sessions across the four days:

  • Whose Story: Unique Voices and Unreliable Narrators
  • They’ve Been in My Head for Years: Writing a Long-standing Series
  • Writing Elsewhere: Using an International Setting
  • Don’t Make Me Laugh: Humour in Crime Fiction
  • Contemporary Issues: Reflecting How We Live
  • Crime Fiction Legacies: Desmond Bagly, Campion, Holmes and More
  • A Light Touch: Writing Traditional Mysteries
  • Unlikely Alliances: Partners, Sidekicks and Friends
  • The Indie Alternative
The Indie Alternative, chaird by the fabulous Zoe Sharpe, with B L Faulkner, Beate Boeker, Lynn Florkiewicz and Stephen G Collier (I spoke on this panel at CrimeFest 2018)

Each panel had three or four speakers plus a moderator, all published authors, some long-established bestsellers, others closer to the start of their crimewriting career. The standard of moderators and speakers was very high, with only one of the panels descending quickly into self-promotion.

The authors who particularly captivated me were all people whose books I’d never read, but that’s about to change: 

  • Norwegian novelist Gunnar Staalesen, writing the same series for 43 years
  • Felix Francis, son of the more famous Dick Francis, continuing his legacy, with his own name on the cover of his books but underneath the strapline “A Dick Francis Novel”!
  • Mike Ripley, an irrepressible author of comic crime novels and also continuation author for Margery Allingham
  • Janet Laurence, a dignified and gracious lady who talked with great authority about the Golden Age of Crimewriting – I could have listened to her all day
  • Beate Boeker, a delightful German who says her name in a certain dialect translates as “Happy Books” – talk about nominative determinalism!
  • Charlie Gallagher, a serving police officer writing bestselling police procedurals
  • Vaseem Khan, whose detective’s sidekick is a baby elephant, and whose day job is at the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science

These last two provided a sobering reminder that crime doesn’t only happen in fiction.

Spoiled for choice as to what to read next and unable to choose between all of these, I bought instead a book I’d been meaning to read for ages: Martin Edwards’ The Golden Age of Crimewriting – the perfect follow-up to my current read, Janet Brabazon’s biography of Dorothy L Sayers.

But it’s a fair cop, I confess: on arriving home, I immediately went online and bought secondhand from a charity retailer the first in Vaseem Khan‘s series. Well, what’s not to love about baby elephants?


What’s Next?

Another week, another festival! This week I’ll be chairing a panel on cosy crime novels at the Oakwood Literature Festival in Derby; going to a musical evening in Avebury based on Beatrice Parvin‘s historical novel Captain Swing and the Blacksmith, and attending the Spring event for Stroud Short Stories. And in between times, I may even get some writing done! Full report to follow next week…

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Posted in Events, Writing

My Favourite Subject

A post about three recent public appearances – one on the radio and two at litfests

Well, who doesn’t like talking about themselves?

In the first of what I’m hoping will be a weekly round-up of what I’ve been up to in my writing life, here’s a quick summary of three highlights for me from last week (if you count the first day of the week as a Saturday, that is!)

1 The 5th Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival (Saturday 27th April)

Despite Hurricane Hannah, Brad Borkan and I were still smiling at the end of the very successful day (Photo by Angela Fitch Photography)

I’m pleased to report that this year’s HULF (one of the many things people call it for short – HULit is popular too!) was a roaring success, the biggest and best yet with over 60 authors, poets, illustrators and artists taking part to stage a packed programme of events to suit all ages and interests. To get the full picture, hop over to the Festival’s website, where we’re already counting down to HULF2020 (!), but where we’re going to be keeping the magic going year-round by weekly posts from the guest speakers. We kick off with a post sharing keynote speaker Brad Borkan’s wonderful opening address about the power of books and reading. In the sidebar of that blog you’ll find a “follow” button if you’d like to receive each new post in your inbox, and an email list sign-up button if you’d like to be kept abreast of Festival news.

I purposely kept myself out of the programme this year to allow myself plenty of time to scurry about from venue to venue, checking everything was running smoothly, (which it was, thanks to my amazing team of speakers and volunteers). But I did enjoy welcoming everyone in the opening ceremony, sharing my dream for a free festival accessible to all, and celebrating the huge talent assembled in the village from far and wide for this special day. I also indulged myself by giving a reading from Best Murder in Show to round off the “Around the World in 8ish Books” session which provided a virtual world tour chaired by Caroline Sanderson, Associate Editor of The Bookseller. My book brought us firmly back to life in an English village!

2 Read My Lips Radio Show (Monday 29th April/Tuesday 30th April)

Yes, you read that right – it spanned two days! I had to log on just before midnight on the Monday and was on air till 1.30am!

Bonnie D Graham, aka Red Radio, was the perfect host at the midnight hour

Agreeing to be a guest on a live radio show which started in North Carolina at 7pm their time might not seem like the smartest decision, as by that time I was exhausted from the Festival and really needed to catch up on sleep, but I’m really glad I did, because it was great fun! Host Bonnie D Graham (aka Radio Red!) is a feisty host, a real pro, segueing easily between disparate topics and making fellow guest Sanjog Aul and me feel very comfortable. Sanjog’s self-help book, The Tricycle Way: How to Stop Racing Through Life and Start Enjoying the Ride, might not sound like the obvious bedfellow for my cosy mystery novels, but we found we had a surprising amount in common and many shared values.

I have Brad Borkan to thank for the introduction to Bonnie – he’s featured on her show several times.

Although the show went out live, it’s available to listen to on demand, so click this link if you’d like to tune in – I don’t chime in till about half way through but I found Sanjog’s interview very interesting too! 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bonniedgraham/2019/04/29/the-tricycle-way-pt-2-with-sanjog-aul-and-uk-mystery-author-debbie-young

3 Wrexham Carnival of Words (Thursday 2nd May)

I rounded off my busy week with a trip to speak about my cosy mystery novels as part of the vibrant Wrexham Carnival of Words, which my author friend David Ebsworth helps organise. He had kindly come to HULF on the Saturday to give his fascinating illustrated talk, “Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Spanish Civil War”, drawing on the research he did for his excellent historical mystery series that kicks off with The Assassin’s Mark, a Christiesque detective story. I highly recommend all three books in the series. by the way.

I was invited to speak in the Carnival’s new lunch-time strand of Meet the Author talks in the spacious, light and airy Wrexham Library, set in the midst of beautifully tended gardens. What a lovely asset for any town and litfest!

The audience may have come to Meet the Author, but I really enjoyed meeting the audience too! I talked about my Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series, why I chose to write cosy mystery, and the relationship between the concept and my real life in a small Cotswold community very similar to the fictional one featured in the stories. I gave several readings and shared some anecdotes about life in Hawkesbury Upton that if you put in a novel, one might not believe! I also told them a bit about HULF, and at least one member of the audience put it straight in her diary and has started planning her trip for HULF 2020! I was happy to sign quite a few books for sale afterwards, and I so enjoyed the experience that I donated the first three books in the series to Wrexham Library.

It was a joy to speak to an enthusiastic audience at Wrexham’s very pleasant library

What’s Next?

After such a busy week out and about, i was glad to look forward to a weekend at home to build up my strength for the following week, when it would be my turn to be in the audience, at a talk by the inspirational author Ali Smith as part of the new Tetbury Book Fest, and at the four-day CrimeFest conference in Bristol. More news of those events next week…