Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Open House Festival...........A riveting review panel!

This year I was lucky enough to be asked by the lovely Lesley Allen (The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir) to take part in The Open House Festival. Lesley, as well as being an amazing author, is also one of the festival organisers. The Open House Festival is an arts festival that runs in my home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland from 1st- 31st August. The range of events is amazing and Lesley and her team do an amazing job, bringing a real buzz to the town. Find out more about the festival HERE. Come stay in Bangor and attend the events. There's something for everyone.

Lesley asked if I would like to be part of a book review panel, reading and reviewing 3 books, but with focus being on one of the 3. So, of course I agreed. Then I had a panic attack! Ha! The 3 books that the panelists had to read were -
  • Days Without End by Sebastian Barry - read my review HERE
  • The Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart - read my review HERE
  • Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent. - read my review HERE
My main focus book, which I did a short reading from was The Boy Made of Blocks. So, I devoured all 3 books and made some notes about all 3 like a maniac! I was going to be prepared.

So, on 9th August, the night of the panel I met up with the other panelists for dinner. The lovely Stephen Walker, BBC reporter and writer who was our chair, Susan Feldstein, literary agent and Hugh Odling-Smee, writer and theatre producer.  I had such a blast during dinner with some discussion about the books and some sharing of funny stories. I felt like I was out with old friends rather than people I had just met for the first time. My nerves started to disappear the more I laughed.

After dinner we made our way to the venue, a lovely old auction house which had been set up with tables and fairy lights.  And, the event was completely sold out! No pressure then not to cock the whole thing up!

Photos © Open House Festival 2017 / Lesley Allen
The event was brilliant fun! Stephen had a chat with the audience members about the books and then each of us in turn presented a book and chatted about it. The audience were fantastic and really got into the discussions about the books. Stephen managed to keep us panelists in line and the whole thing, I feel went really smoothly! Sitting there in front of a room full of strangers was initially terrifying but actually I calmed down by reminding myself that this was a room full of fellow book lovers and this was the chance to talk about books! What could be more perfect! I had warned all family and friends not to attend as I wasn't sure I could do it with people I knew watching! Stupid I know.   Here's a photo of me looking very serious! And yes that is wine in front of me and I did drink it!

Photo © Open House Festival 2017 / Lesley Allen
Massive thanks to all the organisers of the event, particularly Lesley. As per usual with all the events in the Open House Festival it was expertly organised and was enjoyed by many. The dedication of the team to bring such wonderful events to our little town is amazing. If your town runs similar events please do go and support them. 

Photo © Open House Festival 2017 / Lesley Allen

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