“This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever bought!” How I love hearing that!
We’ve been on the move with Sally Heathcote again, starting with Charleston in East Sussex in late September. And, yes, we seem to be making converts as we go. At book signings following our literary festival talks, some people are sure to say: “This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever bought!”
Our Charleston Small Wonder Festival appearance was in an old barn fitted out as a performance space, in the grounds of the Bloomsbury Group’s farmhouse and garden. The house became home to the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in 1916.
Kate joined us for a Durham Book Festival event, which was in the Palace Green library close by the castle and cathedral. In the morning I’d been in the equally imposing Durham Town Hall, conducting an interview with Laura Bates on her Everyday Sexism project and book.
After that Bryan and I zoomed off to Ilkley for another literary festival. Continuing the architectural theme, Bryan did his graphic-novel masterclass in a lovely old stone place adjacent to the Manor House, a fine Tudor building. Later in the day, we both took to the stage to talk about Sally Heathcote,
Suffragette – and make some more converts – in the Ilkley Playhouse. Someone in the audience (one Jane Aitchison) tweeted enthusiastically about a scene in the book that’s set close by, on Woodhouse Moor. There are some great reviews on the Pickled Egg blog/online magazine. Just look what Jess Haigh and JY Saville have to say about the event.
More new graphic novel readers!
A few days later, we were off to the Cumbrian market town of Kendal for the 2nd Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Julie Tait and her team excelled themselves. As one reviewer remarked, “this year everything seemed to be ‘more'”. Here’s a sample of reviews: Jeremy Briggs, James Bacon, Lew Stringer, Stephen Holland (Warning: endearing effusiveness in a very long post!) Infectious enthusiasm all round. And badgers.
Bryan and I each hosted an event. I facilitated Audrey Niffenegger’s presentation of artwork in the Brewery Arts Centre Warehouse Café. Bryan did a career interview with Dez Skinn in Screen 1. Kate and I joined Bryan in his own career interview, where I do believe there was a badger in the audience!
And, yes, more picturesque stone buildings were involved.
It was a lovely weekend – for us it included a chance to catch up with Jeff and Vijaya Smith, who we hadn’t seen in years. While they were visiting the Lake District, it was a pleasure to take them to some locations from The Tale of One Bad Rat, such as this one: Cartmel Fell Church.
Town Halls have been a bit of a theme recently. A few days after the Lakes we were in Cheshire with Kate for another literary festival. The imposing red sandstone Chester Town Hall was the venue for our event. It was chaired by Mark Lawson, who Bryan and I ‘met’ on Radio 4’s Front Row when Dotter was shortlisted for a Costa Award.
The three of us rounded off the month with a trip to Dundee for the Scottish Book Trust Comics Lab and Dundee Literature Festival, both of which took place at the university. While we were there, Bryan and I saw Woodrow Phoenix’s presentation of his big book, She Lives, which we’d missed in Kendal.
Next stop: Jonathan Cape’s Comic Creations evening, part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas on 14th November. Bryan and I will be appearing with Isabel Greenberg, Fumio Obata, Nick Hayes and Steve Bell. Maybe see you there?