I wanted to do my Positivity wave this week but I wanted to also do a write up to my first ever book festival and guess what it all made me happy so I am combining the two. If you have come here to see what a book festival is like, well you might have come to the wrong place, I think this is more of a fangirling post and every photo I am in….well I look star-struck! Probably because I was. I have never experienced something like this before and it is and was beyond epic. I have had so much fun, so many laughs and met some bloggers that I could definitely now class as friends and partners in crime (excuse the pun).
BE WARNED THIS IS A LONG POST WITH LOTS OF FANGIRLING AND PHOTOS AND NOT A LOT OF SENSE!!!
On Thursday I was rushing around from work, travelling up in the car from Dover back to my mums as I thought it would be easier to drive and stay at hers then book a hotel. Well, I was on my way to meet Danielle (The Reading Closet Blog) and meeting Meggy (Chocolate ‘n’ Waffles) and I was stuck in traffic – grrr bloody Dartford Crossing! Finally got to Watford and parked up, half ran and half walked to the train station in heeled boots – sweaty mess commenced. On the train I let Meggy know I was on my way to St Pancras cue the funniest 10 minutes trying to find each other outside a Pret! The messages to find each other were hilarious – you know the film how to lose a guy in 10 days? Well, this was how to lose a person in 10 minutes!! I was sending photos of my view, she was telling how she was by a cream wall…..and then out of nowhere, I saw her yellow coat and an umbrella waving around the air! But now we could get our ass in gear and meet Danielle! Well, you can see how the tone for the weekend was going to go!
After a much needed Pornstar Martini and some food, we trundled on down to register at the venue and hit the bar area to see who I was going to
stalk see for the weekend! I had my first rockstar moment when Ronnie Turner (Author of Lies Between Us) recognised me! Yup, that is right, someone recognised me! (be cool Zoé be cool) After I got over the shock, we all stood there chatting and watching the evening events start! This was the introduction to the festival and the winner of the New Voices Award.
The winner was Ashley Harrison for his story The Dysconnect. After this, it was time to mingle at the bar and speak to people. I finally got to meet Sharon (Shaz’s Book Blog) and Karen (My Reading Corner) and spent a portion of my time talking to them before I got the train back to Watford to prepare for my 5.00 am start on Friday – breakfast of champions at 7.30!
Friday, now I am excited! Meggy and I met this time with zero issues, Ronnie overslept and we got to Danielle easily! All of us buzzing for what the day may bring! I got to meet Penny (What Do I Read Now) and we caused a bit of mischief!! Well, Inge (The Belgium Reviewer) for one was on her way! We got to the hotel early and waited for the book shop to open to see what we could spend our money on that day, I mean who needs food right?
I bought some books ready for the panels for that day and wanted to be signed.
Now it was time to hit our first panel, start fangirling and enjoy myself. I had every intention of taking notes and I did in the first panel but after well I was interested in what everyone was saying, so did some live-tweeting, squealing (internally of course) and paid attention to rockstar authors in front of me!
(LC Tyler, John Curran, Sophie Hannah, Christopher Fowler and Ruth Ware)
Not going to lie, I went to this panel because 1.) I love Agatha Christie and 2.) I love Ruth Ware. If it had not been for her this blog wouldn’t exist! (Up to you if you want to thank her for this or not lol) This panel was really interesting and I am glad I went, I had not heard of the other authors but they have got me intrigued to learn more about them! I loved hearing their favourite Agatha Christie books, their influences generally by her and more…..but I can’t remember – sorry!
After pinching myself a lot to make me realise I was in fact here, we stayed in our seats and I spotted an author I had been dying to meet, where Meggy saved the day and made the introductions and I finally got to meet Chris Merritt, one who I adore. Now I was proper fangirling and he recognised me! Cue a lot of rambling from me as I was NERVOUS! But the next panel was starting so he was safe for a bit longer!
This was hilarious to watch, as Mark had been read his rights as he was being questioned for the murder of Charlie Speed a local drug dealer. Can we not discuss how long it took for my brain to click that the name of the drug dealer was a play on words!!!!! Anyway, back to this panel it was bloody hilarious! A lot of “No Comments” were used when being questioned and the insinuation that Mark did not write his books had me in stitches! After this panel, I was just dying to meet Ruth Ware so we took a breather from the panels and went to book shop, where I also bought Mark Billingham’s book to add to my pile!
It might have been now or later I spotted SJ Holliday (Susi) I’ve met her before at a book launch and thought she was just fab and Danielle was dying to meet her so for the first time ever I did an introduction!!! There were 6 of us waiting to speak to her, we must have looked like a gaggle of screaming teenage fans 🤣🤣
I then went on to the book signings and to meet Ruth and cringe moment as I got flustered but she was so lovely! Then meeting Mark and my god he is tall! So cue some squatting so I could get a pic!! Yes, I do look star-struck in my photos, you would be correct. I could not stop shaking!!!
Ronnie, Danielle and I popped out for some food and Meggy went to pick up Inge. Throughout the morning, Crime Files had some book samplers locked in a cage and if they got to 50 tweets they would unleash the Kracken…I mean they would let the samplers out to the wild. You would have seen I may have gone a bit crazy on Twitter trying to unleash the beast and we did it after lunch! And because I went crazy I got my hands on the first ones! Yay!
Ok! After lunch, all serious now! We hit some more panels! Yay
Tension! I mean you need tension in your book and both these authors do this well! Mark commented that all his books could just be xxxx in hell, so “Parent in law from hell” = Here to Stay, “Neighbours from hell” The Magpies etc. Then an interesting concept turned up! A new theme so like Icelandic Noir, or Swedish Noir, apparently these two authors write Property Noir! Yes that right, this is apparently a thing now! Because they have written books to do with houses….nope I didn’t get it either! When this finished there was only one more thing to do…sit in my seat and wait for the next panel… the legend that is…
This woman is a legend and so inspirational! She discussed the work she does in the prisons and briefly her background and the snobbery some people have with her books. Ali did say at the beginning of this panel that they both liked to talk so to watch them talk over each other was brilliant and very entertaining. I then had another break to hit the book signings and to try and speak to Mark Edwards about the Magpies and how much I loved it! Didn’t get to have that chat but did get my book signed and I got to meet Martina Cole!
But before this, well something else happened, one where I am waiting for the restraining order to come through but I finally met Will Dean – yes I will gush, for me this, meeting authors, actual famous people I have not done for years and when I do it’s footballers so I am over that! So I met Will Dean, and I was shaking like a leaf, he knew my name and I then totally verbally vomited and I think he must have thought I was lunatic! *facepalm* but on the positive side I made sure I was not one you forget, mainly to get that restraining order put in place and to avoid in the future. You see I have this thing where I am like an excitable puppy, I don’t know when to stop – have you guessed that yet! Anyway, yes I met Will Dean (Thanks Meggy!!) Now to stop swooning…ahem shit I just wrote that -let us move on before it gets worse…and it does! At this point, I got to see Karen again (Hair Past a Freckle) and I saw Ronnie have her very own rockstar moment when Harriet Tyce recognised her for a being an author and introduced herself it was awesome to watch ❤️
Hitting another panel now, the last of the day!
This one upset my mum as she wanted to meet Peter James. This was such an interesting panel, listening to Lynda La Plante talk about what ITV did with Prime Suspect and her Emmy and how much it broke her heart. However, Peter James directed Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons in the Merchant of Venice film recently. Plus he was discussing that he wanted Daniel Craig pre Bond to play Roy Grace in the adaptation of his books, instead, he has a list to go through. After this panel, turned out I was sitting by Chris Merritt again, he probably thought he had escaped me, and so we were sitting there chatting until the next panel so we all snuck out and went our separate ways. Danielle and I headed to the bar where she fangirled and saw Steve Cavanagh and had a moment and then we saw Chris again who called us over and I spent the rest of the time
interrogating asking about his books and what was in store next plus general chat! I was totalling fangirling and he was off to the Morecambe and Vice festival on Sunday so was a bonus to meet him, of course, I got an obligatory photo! He was probably happy to escape! I then called it a day after this, too much excitement for this little blogger especially with the excitement of Saturday to come!
Ok, you still here? Good haven’t bored you yet. Sorry I did not realise how long this would be! Will try to condense this down!
Again, I hit London at 7.30 – so up again at 5.00 – thought I was having a break! Ronnie, Meggy and I got breakfast – Danielle was a bit poorly – boo! Penny couldn’t make it today and Inge was going home, our band was breaking up 😫, but later in the day Jacob and Karen joined us and Jen and Mandie decided to stick with us for the day so the band got bigger!
Well, I think you can guess which panels I might have gone to……….
I had to go to this one because the legendary CJ Tudor was there and it was interesting to hear the thoughts of these women with their different backgrounds of writing and styles. I had bought CJ book The Chalk Man because I hadn’t read this one yet and after this panel, I had to buy Fiona’s and Olivia’s book. The shock of the day was CJ recognising my name and jumping up giving me a hug! I am sure it should have been the other way round! Not sure who is more excited!!
Next up was the obvious panel for me was this… (Really can’t think why!)
I had snuck out before this one started as I needed to go and powder my nose and there was a queue…so when I got back I had to sneak back into the room, only 2 rows from the front – ooppss!!!!!!! This is one of the funniest panels I have listened too, random talks about puffins and eating them, how to murder people and Antti is one of the funniest people ever. Karen had a hard time trying to keep them in check for the 50 minutes. I then had Jen and Mandie ( Jen Med’s Book Reviews) tell me off and try to keep me in check and calm! (Pretty much all day one of them (if not everyone) was trying to keep me in check 😆) Didn’t help that when we were queuing to get books signed that they “warned” Will that I was going to touch his hair….so I have made it! At least 2 restraining order for me lol. This was the start of one of the funniest days I have had!
Back to the panels then, no more time for crazy behaviour! I had to stay calm for later as I was eager to see Joseph Knox…..
Another fab panel but what was said I can not remember! Doh! It was interesting to learn the different backgrounds of the authors and what they did to get into the heads of their characters. I mean Steph trained to be a bounty hunter!! This was followed by a quick lunch break and I was back in the same room for another hilarious panel…
Not every day you can go to a panel and get free legal advice, but it happened here! Plus a lot of funny stories of what had to them in court. It was hard listening to Harriet who explained that there was a complete lack of support for women and mothers in the system who do want a career. It was fun listening to crazy things that have happened. After this panel on Jen’s recommendation, I downloaded Imran Mahmood’s audiobook of You Don’t Know Me and it is fab so far! Once we got comfortable I stayed where I was for another panel.
I went to this panel as I wanted to hear Jenny Blackhurst after recently finishing one of her books I was eager to meet her too and Rachel Abbott, but she was not able to make it. This panel brought up a lot of questions and how do they get in their mind of their criminals and the research they do…no one needs to see their web browsers. I will be buying Mel’s book very soon! Whilst Simon and Mel’s books are more fiction, Winnie’s is part autobiographical as the brutal attack that happened to her in real life. Her story was hard to listen too but amazing to see how far she has come, with another book in the works.
So more author pictures and more fangirling! Got to speak to Mel a bit about Stoke on Trent as I lived up there for 4 years and to Jenny about her book. Can you tell I am a happy blogger!
Ok the last panel of the day for me and I ended on a high, I got to listen to Joseph Knox… and I got to see Paul Burston again!
This was so fascinating listening to everyone’s background and how they have applied that to their writing, whether it be where they live or their life choices or upbringing. I found it to be quite insightful. I did, however, feel for the authors because the questions they were asked were the most awkward and random that I have heard! I won’t repeat them but well wow! Then all that was left was me to get my book signed by Mr Knox and I would be happy. Well there is a story with that and it is funny and I even made his Twitter feed! But he is lovely and it is a story I am always going to remember! Plus if you see the blog name to Sueloo any time soon, well that is down to him!
Before this, I had spotted that Louise Mangos was here and she is another author I really wanted to meet. We kept trying to find each other and I spotted her in the panel. After the panel finished she saw Meggy and came over and then clocked me it is such a fab feeling and I tell you what her boots were epic that they had to have a photo- be rude not too!!
Then the six of us went for some dinner, Jen, Mandie, Ronnie, Meggy and Jacob (Hooked from Page One) and after this we discovered that there was a book that a few were on a tour for which we have now nicknamed #FiftyshadesofCasper or as it is now known #50SoC, cue so much laughing and childlike behaviour! I got to meet some awesome authors I have been eager to meet like an excitable puppy and the great thing was they knew who I was! (Or they may have pretended to) and some bloggers – see below highlights! There was an awards do and more drinks but I left about 10, too much excitement for this baby blogger! I mean I ended the night talking to Will Dean, Adam Hamby and Will Carver can’t be topped no?
I had so much fun, still can not get over what happened to me, the memories will stay with me forever, so many friendships formed and god I do feel for everyone who came in contact with me that weekend…..now if my phone goes quiet I know why! I mean I have a rockstar author in my phone book -Ms Ronnie Turner, I mean I am her bodyguard after all! I am also an honourary sister of Jen and Mandie! The world is my oyster now!
I am sorry if I have missed anyone off this or if I have forgotten stuff there is so much to remember!! It’s been a blast so roll on 2020!!!
Much love to you all
Until next time xxx