On the day…..

… the books are distributed to the right places, the novelists, critics and poets are ready, the stage, quite literally, is set.

The teams congregate this morning at nine o’clock in two of the venues, Omnibus Theatre and Clapham Library. The opening event – Patrice Lawrence and It All Began with Orangeboy – takes place at the former and we’re hoping to fill the ‘well’, a super lower-ground-floor performance space, with youngsters while their parents look on from above. Mary Seacole House is an excellent venue or this sort of event.

The first charged for event – The Writing Game -starts at eleven o’clock in Omnibus and your blogger will be formally opening the Festival when she introduces Philip Gwyn-Jones and Emma Darwin to talk about not just writing, but how to get your writing into print. I am looking forward to listening and taking part in the session. The next session – Word Force – will be introduced by Michael Glover, local poet and critic.

There’s a break for lunch, and Omnibus have imported local artisan bakers Lavender Bakery to provide lots of tasty snacks and cakes for sale, though Clapham Old Town has plenty of eateries too.  Then on to the afternoon with Crime Land, with another introduction by me.  We have been fortunate to get Mark Lawson from BBC4 and Vaseem Khan, from University College London, who, unfortunately, will be on crutches with a cricket-induced injury.  But he’s still game for discussing crime fiction.

Next Paula Johnson, who has done such a brilliant job pulling together this year’s Programme, will introduce our literary heavyweight, Dame Margaret Drabble. Paula is Head of Prizes & Awards at the Society of Authors, as well as being an Associate Director of the Royal Society of Literature and a Trustee of the Royal Literary Fund. Speaking with Dame Margaret about a life in writing, as well as her latest book, The Dark Flood Rises, is novelist and erstwhile Clapham resident, Natasha Cooper. Natasha returns to the Clapham Book festival after chairing a panel discussion last year.

How to follow that?  Well, with some non-fiction, two biographers, Claire Mulley and Henry Hemming, and an historian, Simon Berthon, discuss the defence of the realm, WWII and some remarkable men and women. John Taylor, military historian, local author and co-founder of the Festival is introducing that one. Then it’s on to the evening session and Deborah Moggach OBE, introduced by celebrated local novelist Elizabeth Buchan, also a co-founder.

But it won’t be over, even then, for we have a Meet & Greet session in The Greene Room, close to where Graham Greene lived and wrote The End of the Affair and The Ministry of Fear. There’ll be a bar and food available and music from Jago Poynter and Rick Holland. Lots of Clapham Writers will be there, contributors to Festivals past and present and we’ll be presenting Esther Pina with her prize of £50’s worth of Festival books.

Then folk will drift away, to eat or talk elsewhere.  Unsold books will be boxed up, ready to return them to Clapham Books and the lights will be dimmed. It will be over for another year.

But… there’s a full day yet to go!  Wish us luck.

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