Sunday, 22 April 2012

Stephen Booth and the Chinley Book Festival

This afternoon I went along to the first ever Chinley book festival. It hadn't been well advertised - I only found out about it when I saw Stephen Booth mention on his website that he would be speaking at it. A google search didn't turn up much more information. I arrived not really knowing what to expect but hoping that the Stephen Booth talk wouldn't be sold out as I've wanted to attend one of his talks for a while now. 

Chinley is a village in the Peak District not too far from Chapel-en-le-frith. Booth's books are about two police officers who are based in the fictional town of Edendale in the Peak District. They have an alarming number of murders to solve and their cases take them all over the Peak to many real locations as well as fictional ones. 

The book festival was rather small scale, but then I wasn't expecting a Derbyshire equivalent of Hay-on-Wye. One hall had a few stalls including one which had second hand books for sale very cheaply. I bought eight. Another stall was advising people on the advantages of e-readers and had a Kindle and a Kobo to show people. After talking to the lady on the stall I'm finally thinking seriously about getting one.

My entry ticket which cost £1 included a free drink, so I had a bowl of broccoli soup and then indulged in a piece of banana cake with my free coffee. There were tables and chairs set out in the middle of the room so I was able to sit with food and coffee and peruse my new books. 

At 3pm I went to the another hall a couple of minutes away for the talk. I think most of the talks had been quite poorly attended, but Booth's talk had about 40 people in the audience. As the hall was only small this was quite a lot. He talked for the best part of an hour and it was really interesting. He spoke about how he decides on the locations for his books (the 12th is coming out in June) and why he has a mix of real and fictional places. He realised quite early on that the locations were really important to his readers and that many readers try to work out either where the fictional places are or where the places are that he only vaguely refers to and doesn't actually name. He gets lots of emails from readers who go to specific places just because they are in the books. 

I can understand this. Although I wouldn't go out of my way to look for a telephone box just because it had been mentioned in a book, if I was near that telephone box and someone pointed it out to me, I'd be quite interested and would probably take a photo. 

All in all it was quite an interesting talk and I was glad I'd made the effort to go.

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