I was honoured to be asked to chair a panel discussion at Belfast Book Festival. Sincere thanks to the organisers and Sharon Dempsey in particular. Nervously, we got hooked up to a microphone and slumped into the comfy couches at 2pm on 9th June. Under spotlights I shakily introduced the distinguished panel of writers; Catriona King, Kelly Creighton, Sharon Dempsey and my good self :).
For an hour, we discussed the panel’s writing processes, publication, marketing and everything in between. Wishing to keep it welcoming, authentic and informative, I questioned the ladies in turn on their road to writing, how they build their writing lives and how they’ve come to be published.
We touched on dealing with rejection, self-doubt, writing across genres and marketing. The importance of being professional and confident as female crime writers in Northern Ireland surfaced and it was felt that we need to support other writers, as well as striving forward and believing in our own abilities and triumphs. Just as I was starting to relax with the whole process – the time was up! For a half an hour, there was a chance for the audience to query the panel and get books signed and mingle. This was just great!
I’d highly recommend attending events like this. Not only do you always learn something, it is massively helpful to writers. Please also ask questions (if there’s a place to do so) as this puts writers at their ease. They feel they’ve been slightly interesting (which is such a blessing when we ‘just write’ and cannot think of what might be in the slightest bit intriguing for an audience). Feedback forms and social media posts are an excellent way of alerting authors, panels or organisers of what you wish for the future events.
Also, please smile and approach authors if you feel you would like to. I do love to chat one-to-one with people. It is less frightening for us as well and it is wonderful to meet new people. I also loved seeing a nice lady purchase my book and get it signed, and then she sat to read it in the cafe!!! This was a first for me and it was a real thrill (and she didn’t fling it in the bin and sent me a lovely message online about how she was enjoying it)!
Thank you to everyone who said hullo, made connections or bought books and to those who organise such an amazing programme of events and to those who let me chair a panel!