Somerset Celebration of Literature

Sometimes, after looking forward to something you’ve heard so much about, the reality can be a let down. The Somerset Celebration of Literature DEFINITELY wasn’t in that category. It lived up to my expectations, and more. I’ve just arrived home after three wonderful days (March 16 to 18) and I wanted to share some thoughts on the experience.

What a range of authors! Many well known names – Andy Griffiths, Matthew Reilly – lots of experienced and respected authors – Kate Forsyth, Fiona McIntosh, Cath Crowley – and a number of newish faces – Ben Chandler, Fiona Wood, Gabrielle Williams – were all there to present to the thousands of young people who attended the three days of the festival.

For an author, one of the unexpected benefits of these festivals is the chance to catch up with colleagues – and to make new ones. I made an effort to get around and introduce myself to all thirty-three writers attending, but in the busyness I could manage only twenty-nine (sorry Elizabeth, Rebecca, Michelle and William!). It’s always interesting talking to people about their work, getting an insight into the creative process, and it’s affirming to see how engaged and thoughtful writers for young people are – as well as charming, witty and endlessly convivial.

I’ve been to many festivals, conferences and extravaganzas, so I feel I can comment with some experience when I say that Somerset was exceptionally well organised. All of the student and parent helpers made sure that the authors were shepherded to their speaking venues in time and well equipped for each session. The bus shuttle between the hotel and the school ran like clockwork. All communication pre-festival was timely and detailed.

Three days of magic at Somerset. Intense, exhilarating, dazzling and enchanting. What a festival.