As a writer it’s always good to be able to say that you have read at a book festival so Borders Writers Forum, an organisation that promotes writers and writing in the Scottish Borders, is enormously grateful to Borders Book Festival. For the third year running they have given us a slot at their June festival. Last year the focus was the winners of a competition we ran in aid of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation which raises funds for ‘extras’ (both equipment and items to help patients) for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.
This year twelve members were reading brief extracts from out latest anthology of members’ work, Border Voices on Scottish Borders and Beyond, published last November. We also had a table at which members’ books could be purchased.
Borders Book Festival, celebrating its tenth year, is a small event compared to the Edinburgh International Book Festival which takes place in August, but its size makes it an intimate event, taking place in an unrivalled setting within the gardens of Harmony House in Melrose. So along with a literary feast, those coming along can enjoy a stroll round the gardens where the rhododendrons are in bloom, with the abbey and Eildon Hills in the background.
We had a first night slot this year, with serious competition from an event with a big name author – Alexander McCall Smith, a well-known and prolific Scottish writer.
We anxiously kept an eye on the weather. For days beforehand rain was forecast, then it changed to cloudy and cold. Thankfully, the evening turned out sunny with a bit of a breeze, but we could live with that. And the good weather meant people lingered, stood around and chatted, sat and drank coffee or glasses of wine, visited the bookshop and enjoyed the atmosphere.
Anxiously we watched as our audience trickled into the tent, at first mainly family and friends of those reading, then faces we didn’t recognise – members of the public. Sighs of relief all round. We had a good audience.
The evening went well, we kept to time – we had all been allocated a strict word count and told not to waffle in our introductions or we would over-run. But all went to plan and the audience were appreciative, saying how enjoyable the variety of taster pieces had been, holding their interest.
Afterwards we congratulated one another, said how well each other had read, one member saying it was the first time she had used a microphone, another that she had never taken part in such an event before, another promoting her not long published book, all of us appreciating the experience.
Now it’s over, has been a success – and it didn’t rain. Magic!