The research is done, the cards of notes are written and the hand-out prepared, now it’s all about the weather. My Literary Walk kicks off this year’s Festival at two o’clock on Saturday and, fingers crossed, it looks like it’s going to be dry and ( relatively ) sunny! My supplications to the weather gods are working so far. It’ll be so much better a festival if that is the case, encouraging people out onto the Common and to participate in things. Omnibus Theatre, our venue, has a pleasant terrace to its Bar/Cafe which overlooks the Common and that is a good place to sit in the sunshine. But the real impact will be on the walks, which would be so much more difficult in the rain.
Award-winning Irish-born novelist and short story writer ( and fellow Clapham resident ) Annemarie Neary leads the second walk starting at three thirty. Our walks aren’t the same, though we do cover some of the same ground; we both start from outside Omnibus Theatre on Clapham Common Northside. Annemarie is focusing on the north and west of the Common, whereas I am doing the full circuit, though I don’t deviate from it, whereas Annemarie does.
There is so much to talk about, in terms of writers who lived in Clapham and works set in Clapham, from the seventeenth century to the present day; including one Nobel Laureate (and some nominees), some of the most famous books and characters in English literature and some modern mega-best-sellers. I’ve unearthed some Clapham-based detective/crime fiction too (I’m not sharing them today, if you want to find out about them you’ll have to come on the walk or wait for the blog which will, inevitably, follow).
As I write this there are some tickets still available for all of the ‘in person’ events at this year’s Clapham Book Festival, mainly because we have been moved into the bigger of the two auditoria at Omnibus Theatre. Social distancing necessarily reduces audience numbers ( one of the reasons the ticket price is higher this year ) but we should now have a good sized audience. Experience suggests that the majority of tickets are sold within the last week, with many people choosing to attend only on the day itself. So we will be selling tickets at the front desk too.
It’s clear from the ticket sales that Sir Michael Morpurgo is a real draw, with people coming from across, and even outside, London to see him. Ed Stourton is more of a local – he had used to live in Clapham – and I fully expect that Clapham will turn out to see him. We also have two zoom events which take place on the evenings of 19th October and 2nd November (postponed from 7th October because of illness ). I’m already preparing to interview the much praised debut novelist from Brixton, Rosanna Amaka, whose The Book of Echoes was short listed for a range of prizes, including the Royal Society of Literature’s Christopher Bland Award.
But that will take place next Tuesday and, between now and then there’s a Festival Day to take part in.
P.S. I’ve just learned that my walk is Sold Out!