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June 3rd, 2018

Bookshop blog

Sara Bowers, who does such tremendous work along with her team to attract authors to the Festival, looks back at the first week and forward to the next.

Blog #22

As the Festival’s first exciting week draws to a close, there were just a few seconds this morning (Sunday 6am) to draw breath and think about the events so far that the Steyning Bookshop has been organising, and the events that will take place each day next week.   

What a thrill it was when Masterchef judge, John Torode, strolled into The Sussex Produce Company on Tuesday for the Festival celebrity cookery author supper.  Interviewed superbly by avid Masterchef fan, Dr Malcolm Donaldson (husband of Julia), John entertained us royally with anecdotes and insights in his inimitable voice.   

Hardly pausing to eat the meal prepared from his recipe book by Don the chef, he visited each table for a good chat with guests as he signed their books.  Guests on his table had the extra treat of hearing the special proof copy of Julia’s soon to be published new book, The Cook and the King, read aloud by John and Julia – with an excellent Greg Wallace voice by Malcolm as the king. 

So, a great end to a thrill packed day.  Earlier, fellow former Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, had entranced children and adults alike in the Big Top as he (like wonderful Nick Sharratt on the first Sunday) drew non-stop on-screen - even amusingly portraying Gudrun from the bookshop (behind her back) as she performed the obligatory fire exit and lost children info gesticulations!   

And celeb spotters had another treat as Peep Show’s Robert Webb arrived in the packed Big Top the following evening, a much-appreciated appearance at the end of the book tour for the paperback publication of How Not to Be A Boy, organised by publishers Canongate, just before he sets off for Toronto to meet his Canadian publishers and his readers there. Thoughtful and wry, he completely charmed the audience and the book signing queue afterwards.   

The Thursday bookshop author was Ben Clench at the Gluck Studio and a few tears were shed by the audience as this inspiring young man spoke of his amazing recovery from a life-changing brain injury and the book, Ben Again, which resulted from this. 

Although not actually organised by the bookshop, the visit from larger than life Baroness Floella Benjamin that evening brought another rush of interest in a book – her much promoted (by her!) book, Coming to England, which we do have plenty of in the shop at a price of £6.99.   

On through Friday and a very enjoyable visit to the Gluck Studio by one of my favourite authors, Amanda Craig, interviewed by local novelist Annabelle Thorpe.  Amanda sent a wonderful email afterwards praising all the keen Steyning readers – Sarah Dunant had been similarly impressed on the first day of the Festival.   And now we look forward to all the exciting visitors that we will welcome in our second week. 

Wonderful Vicky Woodgate started us off by bringing lots of colourful goodies for children in her workshop at the bookshop on Sunday morning.  And Isabella Tree (Lady Burrell of Knepp Castle) has some fascinating pictures to show us on Monday afternoon when she comes to the Big Top with her book, Wilding.  Can’t wait! 

You can read the full programme here https://www.steyningfestival.co.uk/whats-on   Comments on our blogs are welcome on the website or by email to: media@steyningfestival.co.uk    

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Tags: #Books, #Festival #Blog #Events

Comments (1)

Christine Harding - June 4th, 2018 8:05am
Thoroughly impressed by Steyning Grammar Schools Adams family performance yesterday. Incredible vocals and can’t wait to see the full production later this year. Great entertainment

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