Saturday, 31 March 2012

Why I set up a literary festival

When I became a mum, my world shrank to my baby, my partner and my house. I rarely ventured further than a 30 minute walk in any direction while the baby took a nap. These days my babies are older, but even so, the walk to school, to the shops, the park and the library still form a larger part of my daily experience than they ever did pre-kids.

Back then, I thought nothing of overnight work trips to exotic locales (Coventry, Newcastle and somewhere in Cornwall were amongst the highlights). I jetted off to LA for a few years just because I could. All the stuff that politicians hark on about -  a sense of community; the importance of family - didn't mean too much. The place I lived was just a place to sleep and store my clothes.

But these days those hackneyed phrases do mean something. When you spend a lot of time in a place you notice the peeling paint, the shut-up shops, the dirty pavements. It feels like a personal affront when a local shop closes down, or when someone vandalises the nursery school garden, again. Yes, community is important. Neighbourhood is important. And I can no longer ignore the fact that I am part of both of those things.

Recently, there's been a buzz round here. Local people are taking matters into their own hands. In the face of a dilapidated high street and dog poo strewn pavements, activists are springing up and creating change. Using every form of social media, they're getting the message out. Despite (or perhaps because of ...) a failing economy and an incompetent government, people are claiming some power. I don't know if it's the same where you are, but I hope so.

So where do I fit into all this? Well, I love books. There are not many bookshops or literary events locally (by which I mean within walking distance of my house). And I've always wanted a literary festival on my doorstep. So I thought I'd better make it happen. Therefore, I've set up a new book festival. It's called the Prestwich Book Festival, and it's the reason this blog has been sorely neglected for the last month. Please forgive my silence, and check out the website.

I've lined up some great local writers - both new and established talent. Prestwich and surrounds are full of great writers, but as an area, we're not yet on the literary map. The Prestwich Book Festival aims to change this. I want to highlight and celebrate local writers, writers from Manchester and the North West, and who knows, great writing from all over the world.

With the support of Bury Library Service and a lot of local businesses, the festival takes place between May 14 and June 17. If you're in the vicinity, do come along.


  1. gonna tweet this, it sounds fantastic! well done.

  2. Thanks Chris, I really appreciate your support!