by Inés Gregory Labarta
Pearly light still shone through the windows on the 3rd July as the North West Literary Salon started. Guests gathered inside Lancaster Central Library before 7pm – literature students, authors, readers, story lovers, artists, family and friends – all craving music, stories and tasty snacks. Thanks to the First Friday initiative, Litfest, and funds from Lancaster University, we can celebrate the first Friday of every month like this!
Fumina Hamasaki’s velvet voice opened the North West Literary Salon, and then Naomi Kruger and Yvonne Battle-Felton introduced professor John Schad – writer of creative-critical novels – and full-time author Jo Baker. John brought us an extract of his last novel – The Late Walter Benjamin. His reading was an exciting performance because, like a magician, he transformed himself into different characters – hands flying, eyes burning with emotion – so we could even hear Walter Benjamin’s German accent. Jo read from her acclaimed book Longbourn and we also had the privilege of listening to an extract of her next – unpublished – novel, which has an
Irish protagonist and is set in France during the Second World War. Is it not great to have our favourite authors sharing previews like this? In the end Yvonne and Naomi led a discussion in which various aspects of writing came across, such as the challenges of becoming a full-time author – Jo confessed to writing everywhere, including hotel rooms when travelling around the country to promote her books – and the difficulties of setting a plot in the past. Is it possible to understand the moral values of hundreds of years ago – John pointed out – with a contemporary mind? And, finally, the wonderful catered food – guests agreed the chocolate brownies were dangerously delicious – and we topped the evening off with the chance to talk to the authors informally, buy their books – you can have them signed! – chat with friends and meet people who love reading. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Are you joining the next North West Literary Salon in August?