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Literary festivals are wonderful – there are books, authors, and like-minded readers aplenty. The village/town/city itself always seems to soak up the atmosphere and reflect it back in a bookish way. And then there’s the excitement of discovery in the air as you hear about new books, genres and authors.

And so I found myself at the Guildford Book Festival, which was held last week (11th-18th October). There were so many interesting events that spoilt for choice doesn’t come close to explaining the predicament I found myself in.


There was Princess Michael of Kent with her 15th century French court novel (Quicksilver), Sir Dermot Turing on his uncle (Alan Turing decoded), best-selling thriller writer Clare Mackintosh (I Let You Go), and literary lunches and coffees with the likes of Adele Parks (If You Go Away) and Tasmina Perry (The Last Kiss Goodbye). There was Sir Max Hastings (The Secret War)


I had the pleasure of volunteering at the former-International-rubgy-player-turned-record-breaking-extreme-adventurer Richard Parks’ event (Beyond the Horizon). Unexpectedly poignant (he discussed his fight with depression following a career-ending injury) and hilarious (‘They asked me if anyone had ever done what I was attempting to do and I said, ‘no’. Then they asked if I had done any serious climbing and I said, ‘no’. They asked if I had any experience and I said, ‘no’. They then looked at me incredulously and said, ‘and you want us to sponsor you?’), he had the audience hanging onto his every word. Amazing man.


I also had the pleasure of seeing Deborah Moggach (of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel fame) talking about her books and about how age shouldn’t limit one’s ability to have fun. I also got to laugh outrageously at the event starring Sara Crowe (Campari for Breakfast), whose comedy actress credentials kept the audience entertained all night.


There were also events for writers (on plotting, getting published, and agent submissions), Hugh Fraser (Harm) and Dr Kathryn Harkup (A is for Arsenic) on being inspired by Agatha Christie, as well as the thoroughly amusing event Adapting Alice, where Guildford Shakespeare Company’s co-founder and their writer-in-residence discussed adapting Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland for the theatre in interactive form (tickets still available for the production here).


Too many events to write about, but always the way with literary festivals. I’m already counting down to next year but, in the meantime, I’m scouting for other literary festivals I can attend…