Well, the audition for the Lancashire WI must have gone all right, because I am now on their approved list of speakers; but since they seem to book speakers up to a year in advance it may be some time before I get any definite invitations.
The talks in Sheffield and Ilkely were both a bit disappointing in different ways. In Sheffield I shared a platform with Tim Lynch, who writes non-fiction and was talking about the misconceptions that have been perpetuated about WWl by the writers of the period. His thesis was that most of the soldiers were patriots who were willing to serve their country and their morale was much higher than is generally portrayed. He also had statistics to suggest that the number of casualties in certain major battles was exaggerated. There was quite a good number of people at the talk, but sadly they seemed more interested in his book and memorabilia about the war than in my novels, so I did not sell many copies. Ilkely was the opposite in many ways. The director of the Playhouse is trying to establish an audience for regular literary events but I was only the second person he had invited and only five people attended. They were all most enthusiastic and asked lots of good questions and bought books – I just wish there had been more of them, for the director’s sake as well as mine.
However, the two engagements did provide the framework for a very pleasant few days away from home. We stayed for four nights in the Peak District and went to visit Chatsworth House and then visited friends near York. Plenty of stimulation for the historical imagination in both places!
I am currently engaged in trying to drum up support for the History Reading Month which is being organised by the Historical Writers Association. The idea is to hold events in libraries and bookshops to encourage people to read both fiction and non-fiction history books. The response varies from area to area but I am interested in the North West, so if any of you out there live in my area and know of any libraries or other organisations who would like to have a panel of writers to visit them, please let me know. If you are out of the area you can find details on the HWA’s website.
My next speaking engagement is with the Mid-Wirral WI in Thornton Hough on May 28th.
The audio edition of OPERATION KINGFISHER, read by myself, is now available. So if you want to know what I sound like and how I interpret my characters, this is your chance!
Meanwhile, it’s back to the Empress Matilda.