How much noise do fifty writers make when they are gathered together for dinner? The answer is - it's deafening! It could be that we are desperate to speak after staring at our computer screens and notepads in our solitary imaginary worlds, or it could be that historical fiction writers are just loud, but lip-reading skills would have certainly been a bonus!
On the way in to The Westbourne I got chatting with Cassandra Clark, who then introduced me to more people. It was hard to read everyone's name-badges, without missing chunks of the conversation, but over drinks we spoke of agents good and bad, of promotional postcards, and booksignings, and the fact that some plots never seem to go where we want them to go. In short, lovely to share experiences and know that others are travelling the same path.
When we finally say down to dinner and people were eating, the noise abated enough for us to have a proper conversation. I was seated at one of the smaller tables along with what I shall call the "Roman cohort". I found out some interesting facts about roman armour from Lindsay Powell - that it was chain mail, or individually made, not always the plate armour we see in films, and as an added bonus he filled us in on not-so-ancient American politics.
Also on my table was Ben Kane, who not only writes best-sellers but seems to be a great organiser,as it was he who had master-minded the evening. Ruth Downie was opposite me, all the way from Devon, and it was interesting to hear that she has the same trouble with slaves in her books as I have with servants and chaperones. We have to get rid of them if we want a scene to be between just two people, and then bring them back whenever the character needs to go anywhere.
Gabrielle Kimm was next to me and we already know each other from a long while back when we were both short-listed for the same prize. (Neither of us won, but it made us friends.) I had her latest book with me to persuade her to sign it for me, and on the way home I finished reading it, so a review is coming soon.
What was going on at the other tables I have no idea, but looking over my
shoulder it seemed everyone was engrossed in conversation with somebody. Thanks to Stella for her warm welcome. It was lovely to meet all those writers. And thanks to everyone I met for a great evening. At the top are the books of the folks I met, if you are looking for a Christmas present for someone, why not choose one of these....
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