Working with Strangers – Penzance Litfest 2016

Our latest guest blog is from Sue Kittow who took part in The Land and Seascape of Cornwall in 2016.

Sue writes…

I regularly give talks on how I came to write walks books, and of course publicise my books, and doing it solo is one thing, but getting together with two strangers was another matter.

I’d applied to take part in the Penzance Literary Festival 2016, and been accepted, but then had an email asking if I’d be willing to give a joint talk with two other writers connected to The Outdoors. I said yes – it sounded interesting, and made sense.

I’d heard of Rachel Lambert, and met her once, years ago, but we’d only spoken in passing, so I checked out her website, and was in awe of her foraging courses, the books and her stunning photographs.

I had dimly heard of the other writer, Lisa Woollett – we’d seen images from one of her books in a shop somewhere and admired the wonderful seascapes. Reading her blog, I found she was not only a writer but designer and photographer as well which made my contributions to the world of authorship seem very paltry.

We corresponded by email at first, then I met with Rachel and finally – after many more emails – we all met in Truro and it was such an inspiring meeting. We got on immediately, and realised that our differences were a very good thing –  we all worked differently, our books were all very different, and our publishers worked in very different ways, and yet we sparked off each other. It was a joy to sit around a table, sparking off ideas, comparing notes on our own ways of doing things.

When we finally got round to the talk, despite our previous collective experience, we were all nervous, but really enjoyed it. We asked for questions from the audience, they were fascinated by seaweed, and favourite walks, we all read out bits from our books and I think – hope – everyone felt it was a stimulating session. And we all sold quite a few books which helps.

Being an author can be a lonely experience. Apart from your publisher, you’re on your own. So it was a treat to work with other like minded writers and benefit from what they’ve been through. The atmosphere at Penzance Lit Fest 2016 was vibrant, enthusiastic and incredibly friendly, and I was honoured to be taking part.

Sitting on the stage, answering questions, I realised that, not so long ago, I’d been one of those people in the audience, listening to the author in question. Now that was me. Staggering through the crowds with my box of books, I felt incredibly proud to be an author – it takes events such as these to make us realise this.