Day Two: More Literary Fun

Another good day. Started with an early swim, a hearty breakfast, then went over to the Festival to hear Robin Pilcher speak. He talked about his characters as if they were real. He kept saying, ‘She said…’, ‘He did…’ He talked about his book like he was recounting the life story of a close friend. Now, that’s a good writer. Someone so immersed in their work, that the characters become living breathing entities, not just fictional characters on a page. I can only hope that I can write that well one day.

I also went and saw Trevor Royle. He gave a really interesting talk about the Crimean War. Until this talk I didn’t even know there was a Crimean war. (Yes, I’m sad, but I haven’t studied history since I was thirteen, and back when I was taking history it was just kings and queens and such.) Anyway, Trevor Royal wrote a forward to a book about a Scottish Doctor who went out to act as a medic in the war. The book entirely encompases the letters to and from the Doctor during the war, and sounds absolutely fascinating. I couldn’t help but buy the book. 

After the Royle lecture, I saw Stuart MacBride. He’s an Aberdonian crime writer, and he gave the best performance of the entire Festival. He kind of looks like a less ugly version of Bill Bailey, and he’s got a similar since of humour , minus the musical accompaniments. His talk wasn’t just a reading, but a combination of stand-up, reading, acting, calling his mum (yeah, the audience called his mum over speaker phone), and we watched the trailer to his novel. A great show all around. I got a copy of his book, but after watching the trailer it may be too scary to read.

Finally, I went and saw Louis de Bernières of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin fame. De Bernières was supposed to play the Mandolin but he bust up his hand, so someone else played. The music was quite melodic and the reading made the audience nod a lot in agreement, but I just found the whole thing kind of boring. 

Overall, it was such a great day. I didn’t do as much networking because everyone of importance (publishers, agents, Festival planners) I had already spoke with on Friday.

Although, I did talk to this guy who claimed to be an agent, but I would rather go it alone than be one of his clients. All he had were little poetry pamphlets, and he didn’t seem to really know what he was talking about. He said that he represented clients who were told by publishers that they should resubmit after getting an agent, but then couldn’t get picked up by an agent.

Am I the only one who’s able to read between the lines? ‘Come back when you have an agent,’ is publisher code for ‘I’ll never publish this novel, but I can’t be asked to write out a rejection, so I’ll just tell you to come back with an agent knowing that the work is so bad you’ll never get an agent.’ If the publisher wanted to take on an author, they would just do so. In fact, without an agent in the picture the publishers could probably wrangle a better deal for themselves. Plus, if these authors can’t get an agent, then perhaps the work just isn’t good enough.

I don’t know if this ‘agent’  I spoke to was a scam and he charged clients for his services (NEVER pay an agent any money, if they ask you for money it’s a scam), or if this supposed agent is completely ignorant of the industry. Anyway, he wasn’t the type of person I wanted to network with, so I didn’t talk to him very long. Plus, he kept trying to read me some bloody poem.

Today, I bought more books than I could afford, but decided to treat myself to a nice dinner anyway. I found a quiet little restaurant in town and had a fabulous night by myself thumbing through my new books, eating a three course meal and drinking wine. I was in heaven. I could get used to a job in publishing.


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