Ten long years

This week I spent three days at the wonderful All Saints Literature Festival.   It’s the ten year anniversary of the festival, which made me realise with a jolt that it’s ten years since Obsession was published: All Saints was the first festival I presented at.  My debut session was ‘Girls Business, Boys Business’, and my fellow panellists were John Larkin, Glyn Parry and Dianne Wolfer.  (I learned from that session to never, ever go on after a stand up comedian, among other things.  I also learned not to say, ‘Girls, this one’s for you.  Boys, you just sit there and fiddle with your bits.’  Yes, I did.  I know, I can’t believe it either.)  I had no idea how festivals worked, what you were supposed to do.  I used to write out everything in full and hope that I could read and sound natural at the same time (I couldn’t).  I remember feeling in awe of the writers with more than one book and of the seasoned professionals who could get up and do their spiel without suffering panic attacks beforehand (I still suffer panic attacks beforehand) and wanting to expire with exhaustion afterwards (ditto).

It’s been a roller coaster of a decade, writingwise and otherwise.  There have been a few triumphs, a lot of disappointments, angst and satisfaction in approximately equal measure.  I’ve done things and been to places I could never have imagined possible, thanks to writing; met the most wonderful people; been inspired and challenged and occasionally gutted. I have a wonderful publisher and editors who I nigh on worship (especially you, CM!).  I have a stack of ten books with my name on, some ambitious and deep, some fun and frivolous, some out of print, some still loved by readers.  I wouldn’t trade it in for the world.

In other news, I now have a day job that is compatible, as much as one ever is, with writing.  Cool title, huh?  I am delighted in more ways than I can explain.

Picture:  Norman Jorgensen, me and Karen Tayleur‘s tongue, just before we triumphed in the Book v Ebook debate at All Saints.  Was it our skillful (and in my case, 30 second) arguments re the bookiness of the book, to quote our opponent Meg McKinlay, or just that booky bookness is what young folk are into?

9 thoughts on “Ten long years

  1. Blossom Books

    So cool! I do remember you writing out everything in full and trying to sound natural… but you know what? I also remember wishing I could be as interesting and as accomplished as you. I'm so thankful that I can call you my friend now. I have learnt from you over the years, even though you have not been trying to teach me, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you and me, both. Yay for All Saints! 🙂 -K x
    PS – Is it just me, or does Karen have a very long tongue??


  2. Ken Spillman

    I was at that 2002 All Saints Festival too, not with my first fiction but with my first kids' book – it seems so long ago. What a boon that festival has been in terms of writing friendships, not to mention all the other outcomes. Your writing journey since then has been all class, Julia, and you always underestimate your natural gifts as a presenter… which the 'fiddle with your bits' line amply demonstrates! Congrats on this and everything, Ken x


  3. Tony

    Ditto. What they all said. I've got very fond memories of that first ASF, too. Can't believe it's been ten years.

    And you make a spiffy usher of the Black Rod, btw…



  4. Anonymous

    Ten fabulous years! We are also delighted in more ways than can be explained. I remember chatting at the pool, over toddlers, just before Obsession came out. I didn't know you were a writer, was really only just beginning to think about writing myself. You made it seem possible and I'm still grateful for that.

    Ten more years for all of us – at least!

    Meg McKinlay



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