Ballycastle, as it turns out, is morphing into a literary haven of late and I for one am not complaining! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the north coast in Northern Ireland, this is a small seaside town located just 15 minutes from where I live by the Giant’s Causeway. This weekend, it played host to the Aperture Festival at Corrymeela, which combined a mixture of music, culture, literature and various other events to celebrate the centre’s 50th birthday.
I went along on Saturday and enjoyed a panel discussion on the media, as well as readings from authors Glenn Patterson and Sarah Perry, as well as a session entitled The Book Doctors, which saw both of these writers along with author Paul McVeigh, join Corrymeela’s Padraig O Tuama to chat with the audience and give book recommendations. It was great to hear from the authors, but also, to listen to what the audience was saying in the Book Doctor session about what they like to read, or what they want to read more of.
As writers, we write what we feel compelled to write, of course, and shouldn’t write what’s simply ‘in vogue’, but I found this quite an interesting session. One lady simply said she enjoyed Sarah’s reading because it focused on small details that made her empathise immediately with the character. She said she liked writing that featured experiences which you can often think only you experience. It’s comforting, she said, to see that others experience these things as well.
Another younger woman said for her, characterisation was more important than plot or any sort of storyline – if the characters were interesting, then she was hooked. Others said they wanted to read darker stories, while an older man wanted recommendations for something to read as a recent retiree.
I enjoyed this hour more than I thought I would and it was also great to note down some new authors to look up. I came away inspired and very glad I went along!
PS Just in case anyone’s interested, one of my short stories – The Mobile Librarian – is included in The Lonely Crowd journal, which is now available to buy here. Fear not if you have no wish to purchase, but there are obviously many more authors besides myself in there and you might well find something you like. 🙂