There were other writers there – Alan Gibbons, Berlie Doherty, Beverley Naidoo, Anne Cassidy and Elizabeth Laird. Also, many of the academics have also written books, but I guess their concern is not so much with sales and royalties as we writers are, but with the esteem which the books bring. I guess, though, that amounts to the same thing, in a way. It was good to mix again with other writers. Of course I’m not as well-known as they are, but we share experiences. And they did gawp when I mentioned that Waterstones are selling me three for two.
Alan’s talk at the end really gave food for thought. Though the publishers are hard-headed business people and embedded in capitalism, they rely on subversive texts to feed their sales. A bit like Aunty, really. Yet Aunty – aka the BBC is delightfully independent, but should tow a government line even though it does not have to obey the advertisers. Interestingly, it can speak reasonably freely.
On a personal level, I’m beginning to see how important it is that I stick with my writing and that I really do get it as good as I possibly can. It was really good brushing shoulders with those five and I did mange to speak for a long time over dinner with Alan and Berlie.