Saturday found me in Carlisle, attending a session organised as part of the new-ish Borderlines Carlisle book festival. I’d only been to the city once before, on a nippy February day when everything looked rather bleak. This time the whole city was buzzing with shoppers, festival attendees, students, buskers, and even a brass band in the bandstand by the market cross. I’m not sure if the atmosphere was due to the festival or if it’s always like that, but it was all rather lovely.
The event itself, held in the impressive ballroom of the Crown & Mitre hotel, featured two crime writers (Matt Hilton and Sheila Quigley) and two historical novelists (Ben Kane and William Ryan), all of whom have links to the city or the wider area, in a so-called Clash of the Genres. I’d been expecting this to be quite a feisty affair, with quick-fire questions parried by one or other of the genre pairings; in the event it was more of a four-way author talk, but no less interesting or entertaining for that.
It was fun hearing about Ben Kane’s perambulations along Hadrian’s Wall dressed in full Roman armour, and interesting to learn how all four writers got started, why they wrote what they wrote, and whether they did much research. (Ten out of ten to Ms Quigley for admitting that she doesn’t bother with research, she just sits down and writes!)
The only bugbears were a glitchy sound system which all the authors struggled with, and the fact that I had to creep out before the end thanks to unhelpfully-timed trains. At least I didn’t trip over the rug and make a racket on the way out, and I’ll definitely be back next year, hopefully for more of this excellent festival’s events.