Thursday, 18 September 2014


Well, it’s over, and I have begun sleeping well again. 

No, not today’s great happenings in Scotland – though I have felt sick with worry over that - but the Scattered Authors North Day last Saturday, which had been a long time in the planning.

Way back in February, I met a bright and inspiring writer and illustrator, Teresa Flavin. She’d recently moved from Glasgow to Leeds, and I’d heard nice things about her from writer friends in Scotland. As we were chatting over lunch, somehow the gentle grumble “Why do all the writer’s lunches seem to happen in the South?” changed to “Wouldn’t it be good to set up one for children’s writers in Yorkshire?” And so, bit by bit, last Saturday’s event at Leed's West Yorkshire Playhouse was born.  

We did begin by thinking “Lunch”. However, restaurant tables aren’t always easy to hear across and all that lively ordering and eating does interrupt the chat somehow, which is a problem if you’ve travelled for a couple of hours to get there. So our “Let’s have a lunch” grew from “Maybe a session before?” to a “Maybe a session after as well?” and then someone suggested more speakers - and before we knew it, a whole day had been planned.

How thankful we were for the West Yorkshire Playhouse, a modern venue not far from the central railway station, especially when cheap pop-up arts venues also had a habit of popping down just as quickly too. 

And, once things were arranged, how thankful we were for all those Scattered Authors who said they’d come and then did come! Money matters can be very scary . . .

And a Grand Day it was, the thirteenth of September! We started with two wonderful speakers from Leeds Libraries Services - Debbie Moody and Pauline Thresh. Then came CWIG Past Chair Helena Pielichaty,  passionate about our fast disappearing Schools Library Services and about the “Patron of Reading” scheme.

Then Teresa Flavin herself talked about the social networks that she finds useful – a well-planned wise and informed “do it if it works for you” approach – before we all went in for the task of trying to identify what his within the plates of sandwiches on their dark and gloomy table outside the Congreve Room. (Teresa and I have since suggested that WYP Catering put clear labels on their serving plates!) The sandwiches themselves, by the way, were very nice. So, the actual lunch, and more chatting.

The afternoon brought Jason Beresford with an entertaining account of his life so far, his “The Fabulous Four Fish Fingers” books and a burst of ukulele playing as a conclusion.

The last speaker of the day, Hilary Robinson, talked about working in BBC radio and setting up her Strauss House Productions company. Hilary decided to maintain control over her own work and ideas by independently publishing her new picture books in collaboration with Mandy Stanley (illustrator of The Copper Tree series) and Martin Impey, whose detailed illustrations add so much to the highly praised picture book, “Where the Poppies Now Grow”.

Finally, braced by tea and cookies, the roomful of writers chatted until one by one they had to leave: for Wales, for Derbyshire, for Scarborough, for Birmingham, for Cumbria and Northumbria, or simply for a closer home somewhere around Leeds. Oh, the hours were over so soon, and I got to speak to far fewer people than I wanted to. Even so, I was so pleased that all those months of administration led to a happy and satisfying day for so many.  Teresa and I had a private cheer afterwards and plan to celebrate sometime soon.

Nevertheless, although Sunday 14th September was definitely a day filled with numb and lazy rest, I kept recalling voices talking about a Christmas lunch in Leeds sometime, maybe December. This idea will – I am promising myself - stay as a simple Scattered Authors Lunch!

After all, I do have some writing work to do . . .  
Have a happy weekend.


1 comment:

  1. You are an organiser extraordinaire, and your efforts are enormously appreciated - now go write a book.