I had a cracking weekend of activities planned. On Saturday, I was going to lead a walk around Deptford and along the Thames, in the footsteps of Christopher Marlowe, Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn, Joseph Conrad and more. It was to be part of Deptford Literature Festival, a day of mostly free events, many aimed at families, to get people excited about reading and writing.
On Sunday, I had tickets for the Killer Women crime writing festival in London. I was looking forward to hearing about new releases, to talking to experts and meeting other writers.
Both festivals were cancelled with a few days’ notice. As a friend commented, literary festivals are not that crucial in the current context. But spare a thought for all the people who worked so hard to bring the events together. Literary festivals are also a great way for authors to promote their books, and many people with new books out, which they have laboured over for years, will see their time in the spotlight come and go.
With a suddenly empty diary, and the potential need for self-isolation in future, I did what I always do in times of crisis. I headed for my local bookshop and stocked up. My ‘stockpile’ consists of the new Hilary Mantel novel, The Mirror and the Light (which I have been longing for since I finished Bring up the Bodies, seven long years ago), plus Daisy Jones and the Six, which I’ve heard great things about, plus a copy of the wonderful reader’s quarterly, Slightly Foxed.
If you want me, I’ll be reading. And if you think that sounds like a good idea, contact your local indie bookshop. Most take orders and will arrange delivery, if you’re self-isolating. And don’t forget you can find your local through Hive. They face a tough time, as do we all. Let’s support each other.