With big music festivals like Glastonbury happening everywhere and all the time, it sometimes seems like there is nothing out there for book lovers. Although America is blessed with having the Book Expo America and other smaller ones, there seems to be a lack of local, accessible book festivals here in the UK. This is one of the reasons why I was really excited to be allowed to accompany the Nottingham Writers' Club to the last day (28th of June) of the Lowdham Book Festival, an annual book festival in Lowdham, UK that spans two weeks and has a range of events, readings, talks and, on the final day, a book market.
We arrived relatively early, around 9 AM in order to set up the stall for the Club. It was really fun to get to see the whole festival experience from the other side. Although all the Clubs, writers and publishers are there because they love books, they also have a job to do. It was great to see how everyone got along and was helpful if help was needed. What was really interesting was talking to Carol Bevitt from the Nottingham Writers' Club (Twitter) who gave me some great insights into how budding authors struggle. As a book blogger it is easy to judge an independently published book for bad editing, but once you realize how hard it is to find an editor, agent or publishing house it is surprising there aren't more mistakes.
What I loved the most about the Lowdham Book Festival is that it is very regional, in the best kind of way. I think most people tend to forget at times that there's not just Penguin, HarperCollins and Pan Macmillan out there. There are smaller publishers who try and promote regional authors, there are local clubs who support authors trying to become professional and all of these are great resources to beginning writers who need some help along the way. Getting involved in local or regional writing is very rewarding because you can actually witness the whole process from writing to the published result, which is quite a learning experience.
Although I only witnessed the last day, there was a whole range of talks that covered everything from aging gracefully to a discussion of Nottingham's Medieval history. Having such a variety in topics really helps draw in an audience. I attended a talk about Mary Shelley, which narrated her life, interspersing it with excerpts from poetry that inspired her and of course her own novel Frankenstein. These kind of festivals bring together a whole range of people who all, in the end, share a passion for reading. And that makes walking around Lowdham Village Hall a really fun experience which I recommend to everyone!