By Inés Gregory Labarta
The very last Northwest Literary Salon of the season and I promised myself I wouldn’t cry – in front of everyone, I mean. It has been a year full of inspiring authors, a friendly audience of fellow readers and writers and the excellent company of the best hosts one could ask for: Yvonne and Naomi. And we have also been spoiled with the talent of musicians such as Noni and the culinary skills of our dear Filbert’s Bakery from Lancaster.
No wonder I have been mourning since then! Because this was the last NWLS of the season, Yvonne and Naomi brought us three writers instead of two: Paul McVeigh, Essie Fox and Sophie Duffy.
Essie Fox is an incredibly talented author (check out Elijah’s Mermaid if you love the Victorian era!) and illustrator. I had the pleasure of discussing our mutual love of all things Gothic and how collecting books can become a question of life or death (I’m referring to the danger of bookshelves so incredibly loaded with volumes that the possibility of an avalanche seems increasingly likely).
Many people had told me afterwards that Sophie Duffy‘s vivid descriptions brought them back to the happy days when they were students at Lancaster University during the 1970’s. As a student now, I feel very proud to know my university has made it to the world of fiction, and I’m particularly intrigued about her novel Bright Stars because it also depicts my favourite city in the world – Edinburgh!
One of the things everyone loves about the NWLS is the storytelling, the opportunity to get to know different characters whilst exploring exotic settings. And Paul McVeigh took this to another level: his performance was as good as seeing a play, as he suddenly metamorphosed into a witty twelve-year-old from Belfast – the young narrator of his novel, The Good Son.
All the writers shared advice on what to do while you’re waiting to get your work published. It seems easy to envy those who are accumulating awards and going around the country launching their books, but what many people tend to forget are all the years – sometimes even decades! – of hard work behind the scenes.Paul McVeigh explained that after his first novel was published, his strategy was to stop writing for a while and focus on promoting it as much as he could. Are we writers supposed to adopt the role of ancient minstrels and go around sharing our stories? I personally think it sounds appealing…
All this was topped off by a beautiful (and heavenly) cake by Filbert’s. Everyone had the chance to speak to the authors, meet new people and discuss affairs from the literary world. It is because of events like this that we, lonely creatures known as authors, leave our desks and get out the real world to get inspiration and motivation from people who understand and share our struggles.
This first season of NWLS was supported by Lancaster University, Lancaster Arts City’s First Friday initiative, and the lovely staff at Waterstones. It wouldn’t have been possible without the the effort and dedication from its founders, Naomi and Yvonne along with the support and talent of many musicians as well as Filbert’s Bakery. A lovely group of volunteers helped every single month to receive people at the door, set up and distribute food and beverages, and, the loyal audience brought warmth and curiosity. We rarely had an empty seat!
Have you enjoyed the NWLS with us? Are you – like me – still mourning the end of this season? Let’s keep promoting it so a second season arrives soon!