It’s June. It’s raining. So it must be book festival time in the Borders.


Marquee and vegetation

Borders Writers’ Forum has again been given a slot at the Borders Book Festival, providing a welcome opportunity for members to read extracts from their work in front of an audience. And that audience expects a similar standard of writing and performance as at events with ‘big’ names — assorted writers anxious to promote books, pushy politicians seeking more limelight, and television celebrities by the score chasing more name-enhancing exposure.

So it’s with some trepidation, and fancy footwork puddle-avoiding in Melrose’s Harmony Garden, that we turn up for our event, clutching umbrellas in case of the forecast thundery showers, as well as our books packed into a large box, a pull-up banner, cameras, and pulling a two-weeks-in-the-sun-sized suitcase full of bits and pieces deemed necessary.

Seven Books Seven Authors for blog

Seven Books Seven Authors is the name of our event, with the seven of us who have published books in the previous year taking part. We have a table in the marquee for selling books as well as signings, with the official event bookshop also stocking copies of our works.

Book festival in Harmony Garden

Tension stiffens the air along with a slight nervousness even in those who are regular performers. After all, you never know what agent or publisher might be lurking in the audience (we can always hope!). Unusually, tickets are still available at this eleventh hour for other events (even those with ‘big’ names), so we sigh with relief as the marquee begins to fill, assuring us we have an audience of respectable numbers.

Take your seat

Inside the marquee the audience starts to arrive

With book table organised and booklets, magazines, flyers, and cards in place, microphones and lectern light tested, we gather outside for a group photograph, thankful the black clouds massing overhead haven’t yet turned to rain.

Start time, and our first to read takes the stage. The thundery weather makes the tent hot and sticky, but with doors open noise spilling from other marquees is a distraction, so a member of staff rushes to close them. As a character soaked by rain is mentioned in our first author’s reading, the heavens above open and, for a brief time, the drum of raindrops on the canvas above adds a soundscape to her spoken words.

Blooming marquees

Marquees in Harmony House garden.

All our works are very different, some prose, some poetry, some historical, others contemporary. The mix is good and the variation in theme and reading voice keeps the audience engaged. The hour passes quickly, and before we realise it the event is over. The audience straggles to the book table, or to chat with others or to the exit. Some are off to another event, some to enjoy a glass of wine and take in the unique atmosphere of a festival set within a garden with a backdrop of Melrose’s ancient abbey and the Eildon Hills.

The rain has passed leaving a warm June evening, a smell of damp bruised grass, and seven satisfied authors.

House in the garden

Harmonh House belongs to the National Trust for Scotland. It’s one of their properties in which visitors can stay and is located in the heart of Melrose, opposite the abbey.



About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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9 Responses to It’s June. It’s raining. So it must be book festival time in the Borders.

  1. Wonderful. I’m so glad you were pleased with it!

  2. Chris says:

    How fun that just as one author read about a character soaked in the rain, the weather acted accordingly. It must have added atmosphere to the reading. (Even if it was uncomfortable in the tent.) Too bad not many books were sold, but it sounds like it was a rewarding event all the same.

    • It’s a great event to take part in, providing very useful experience of reading your own work in public. I think most book festivals here use marquees, because of flexibility to accommodate numbers at differing times. But the Scottish climate isn’t always kind to outdoor events. Still, thoroughly enjoyable.

  3. bebs1 says:

    Congratulations! It’s a big accomplishment to have your work featured and being published.

    • Thank you. It does give a bit of a buzz for a while…until the reality of the competition you face sinks in. Still, it’s something I have accomplished and enjoyed, despite the occasional hassle. Now, on with book number three.

  4. Walter says:

    The book read by the author to the public, that’s good. I think the writers only read precisely the essence of their own ideas.

    • It’s certainly good experience, but it took me ages to decide what to read. The piece had to be interesting without giving away too much of the plot, and capable of holding attention and hopefully making people want to buy it.Otherwise people tend to lose interest rapidly and start wondering what’s for the meal or should they buy the new dress they saw. Always challenges.

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