L Fest

23 Jul

ClareUKLesFic’s Clare Ashton reports from L Fest 2013.

L Fest was big, beautiful and had something for everyone this year. The music side of the festival has always been major part of the event, but this year they ramped up the arts side (organised by Spring Out) with everything from a cabaret night, carnival procession, tea dance, cinema and, of course, author events.

VG Lee and Clare Ashton

VG Lee and Clare Ashton

Headlining act VG Lee kicked off the event with her one-woman play The Lady of Wild West Hill. There were various technical hitches but being the pro and quick thinking wit, VG accommodated the interruptions with aplomb and the audience assumed they were part of her funny act and the play was a fabulous success.

(I was very chuffed to catch up with her on Sunday to grab a quick photo.)

Saturday morning author events kicked off with the panel Ghosts From the Past with Crin Claxton and New Zealander Robyn Vinten. The audience looked hungover but happy from the fabulous opening night and Robyn started with an excellent read from her first literary novel. Bruceville reunites three childhood friends for a reunion that stirs up the horrifying and romantic past.

Crin Claxton

Crin Claxton

Crin followed up with a reading from her novel the Supernatural Detective, a funny ghost crime novel brought to life by Crin’s excellent reading and assistance from actress partner Deni who added some wonderful voices for incidental characters. Crin talked about her penchant for the extraordinary in the ordinary – stories with a little bit of magic in them. This was the second reading I had seen from this book. This time I had the good sense to buy a copy and get it signed by Crin who later gave me a lesson in good signing practice (i.e. bringing a bloody pen).

The day continued with an open mic session for author readings and workshops from Helen Sandler (from Spring Out) on Performing Your Work and VG Lee From Truth to Fiction – generating ideas for fiction and getting them down on paper. VG also did another popular workshop on the Sunday (The Lesbian Monologue).

Robyn Vinten

Kiki Archer

Saturday night was time for cabaret headed up by Clare Summerskill, and a Grease themed party – which seemed to involve a large amount of alcohol and bad behaviour (further coverage has been censored, but UKLesFic has come by some photos…) .

Kiki Archer

Kiki at the romance panel signing session

Sunday morning was time for the romance panel with me, Kiki Archer and Angie Peach. I started with a passage from After Mrs Hamilton (video here) and Kiki followed up with (by popular demand and unrelenting pressure) the kitchen scene from Instigations (video here). Angie had the hard task of following that, but she did with an absorbing read from In Reflection (a book that both Kiki and I found dark and unnerving and memorable). Angie’s reading’s here.

The Q&A session that followed was great fun with all authors having awkward questions about how much of themselves they put into their work about high-class escorts, murderers and teachers who have affairs.

You can see the session here:

Not fiction, but a very affecting and inspiring session was Clare Summerskill‘s Gateway to Heaven reading – a collection of oral histories from older lesbians and gay men. Clare showed what a class act she was with her commentary and analysis of the lost voices of generations of especially working-class GLBT people and by bringing to life the histories in her performance. The session was heart-breaking, uplifting, funny and above all inspiring.

Rose CollisThis was followed up with a popular spoof costume drama, Cromford, and Rose Collis’ one-woman show Trouser-Wearing Characters about gender-bending characters of the past.

The biggest disappointment of the arts side of L Fest? I missed Jackie Kay‘s session. I saw Jackie Kay on panels at the last ever YLAF and she was incredibly witty as well the seriously talented writer you’d expect. As well as a reading and Q&A there was a book club session discussing Reality Reality which I also missed. So I kicked myself hard twice this weekend. Next year….

If you haven’t considered going to L Fest before, please do.  The timetable was packed with music, comedy, cinema and workshop events as well as games and activities so that everyone had more sessions they wanted to attend than they physically could from dog shows, pole-dancing workshops and throwing yourself around in a sumo suit.

Romance panel

The romance panel with L Fest organiser Cindy Edwards

Finally, and just because they were fabulous, dynamic, charismatic and bloody good to photograph, here are some photos of Betty – and yes they did play the L Word theme tune.


3 Responses to “L Fest”

  1. Gabriella at 11:56 am #

    That’s a wonderful and thorough report!

  2. jonesyj08 at 12:16 pm #

    re-nergising, stirring and life-changing for many people


  1. Link Round Up: July 20-29 | The Lesbrary -

    […] UK Lesbian Fiction posted L Fest. […]

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