The forecast for the L Fest weekend was for stunning sunshine and a heatwave, which naturally meant that torrential rain, thunder and lightning arrived. UK LesFic wimped out of camping and turned up on a very soggy Saturday morning. But saturated tents turned out to be great for audiences of the indoor and dry arts stage, and even though the event kicked off at 10 a.m. there was a good turnout to see VG Lee open the event.
VG has become a bit of feature at L Fest and they are happy to have her. She talked a little about the resurgence of British lesbian fiction in the last couple of years and how good it is to see writers beyond the established literary set having success.
She handed over to Kiki Archer to host a very lively indie panel. There were excellent readings by US author of Exception to the Rule Cindy Rizzo, Clare Ashton read from best-selling romcom That Certain Something and Clare Lydon from her well-received début London Calling. Kiki put the panellists through their paces with questions ranging from “Do you like writing sex scenes?” to “do you base your books on your own experiences?” after authors had read pieces about waking up with a hangover in bed with their boss. You can see the whole session on this video. Do not miss Kiki Archer’s reading and do marvel at how good a sport her wife is!
Up next was Crin Claxton‘s fabulous Bards on Buzzers quiz. The panel featured Lammy winner Andrea Bramhall (Clean Slate), Goldie award winner Amy Dunne (Secret Lies), Gill McKnight author of the popular Garoul werewolf series, and BSB development editor Vic Oldham. Serious bookworms were well-rewarded with a quick-fire round, followed by some in-depth questions by Crin to the authors. Authors were then treated to seeing Crin and beautiful assistant Denny acting out scenes from the panellists’ work in the guess the novel round, in ways that both surprised and tickled everyone. The audience were especially surprised to find Agadoo feature so prominently in Lammy-award winner Andrea Bramhall’s opus.
VG Lee meanwhile delivered two workshops “A Leap of Faith” and “Fast and Furious”, both very well received by new and established authors. Several other authors were also spotted in various states at different times. Karen Campbell author of the new novel The Knowing was one the appreciative attendees of VG’s workshops. Angela Peach took camping to a different level by sleeping in a hearse. She was asked about her enjoyment of the evening activities but declined to comment in the presence of children. H.P. Munro made several appearances, mainly looking very authorial but, by the end of Saturday evening after drinking games with other indie authors, she looked like this.
The sun, at last, came out which baked those with hangovers in their tents and hearses, and BSB authors were back in action early that morning for a slick readings and Q&A session. The work of the panellists shows how varied these British authors and the Bold Strokes output now is. Andrea Bramhall talked about the inspiration behind her diverse work which includes scuba diving and memory loss, to love across religious and cultural divides. Amy Dunne talked about becoming an expert in post-apocalyptic life while researching her work in progress (she has a cuddly Christmas novel out before that). Crin Claxton is hard at work on a follow up to the thoroughly entertaining Supernatural Detective and Gill McKnight teased the audience with some hints about her current work on a series of novels on soul matchers.
The highlight of the arts stage for many was an audience with Maureen Duffy – trail blazing novelist and poet writing since the 1960s. An enthralled audience listened to Maureen reading from her novels and poetry, followed by a Q&A which revealed that she writes sitting in an arm chair and then sends her words away to be typed up, which UK LesFic thinks is class. Some misty eyed and overawed authors and readers patiently waited to have copies of Maureen’s work signed at the end of the session.
L Fest is a wonderfully varied festival. As well as the author sessions, two band stages were in action, attendees could learn anything from drumming to how to avoid lesbian bed-death, Planet London hosted speed dating, films, quizzes and a friendly zone to hang out and there was always something entertaining to see and do. Here’s a taste of this fabulous event: