The sun shined on L Fest this year, and a fun and cozy event it was too. Live music got the big top treatment and the arts stage was hosted nearby in an airy bright tent. Stalls lined the edges of two grassy areas with everything from busking to dog shows. There were fewer author panels this year, and no fiction workshops, but what the sessions lacked in quantity they certainly made up for in quality.
First up was the Indie Panel ably captained by Clare Lydon. HP Munro had the unenviable task of kicking off the show before the microphones arrived but was beautifully audible by the time her reading of the merkin scene from the much-loved Stars Collide came around. Sally Edwards read from her self-confessed highly autobiographical debut How to Love. Karen Campbell enthralled the audience with a brilliant reading from her work in progress about a lesbian dwarf. And Suzanne Egerton, who has one of those voices you need for Book at Bedtime, delivered her humorous story Diva like a pro.
Sunday morning was time for Paul Burston‘s Polari panel and a large and eager crowd was up early to see some sparkling readings. VA Fearon started the session with a reading from her gritty London gangland thriller The Girl With the Treasure Chest. Some light relief was dished out by Kiki Archer with the shitting-mobility-scooter-icecream scene from Too Late…I Love You, much to the delight of the audience. Diana Souhami was a great inclusion, effortlessly entertaining with her own witty observations and reading wonderful snippets from her biography of the fascinating Alice B Tokas and Gertrude Stein. VG Lee supplied the grand finale with two Deirdre stories to a most appreciative crowd.
The last author session was from the big-selling Manda Scott. The historical fiction author took a handful of questions and then talked most impressively about everything from living in round houses to knights steering horses with their bums and how genuinely terrifying battle reenactments are. She offered a few interesting tidbits about her writing career such as her name change (to MC Scott) being forced upon her for the Rome series, much to her chagrin, and the barriers to writing the Boudica series – pressure to keep to her previous thriller brand and established historical authors suggesting there was not enough material to support new fiction – Manda went on to write a series of four sizable tomes.
It was, all in all, a fabulous festival. But let’s hope 2016 sees a beefed up arts side to L Fest.