Swindon is famous for its Railway Village which dates back to 1843. Not so well-known is the Book Fair held in one of its historic buildings. Brunel not only built his railway works in the town, but also decent housing for his workforce with a range of facilities including a health centre with medical baths, a hospital, several public houses, a bakery and by no means least, the Mechanics Institute with provision for education and self-help which offered lectures and evening classes and a small library. These buildings all survive. The Grade II listed buildings of the Great Western Railway Works have been renovated are now occupied by the wonderful Steam Museum and one of Europe’s largest covered Designer Outlet Villages.
The Mechanics Institution Trust hosted Swindon’s first Book Fair for local authors in the present-day Railway Village Community Centre which was the former Great Western Railway Medical Fund Hospital.
Fourteen local writers had their books on show. Appropriately, two writers presented books about the history of the railway works and of the town and the rest were novelists. There was a wide variety of children and adult fiction with genres ranging from crime thrillers, psychological suspense, mystery, period dramas, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction to chit lit. The event brought a small but steady flow of people through the doors and was judged a great success by all who came.
I was delighted to be asked to take part and I enjoyed the day immensely. Not only was it a rare opportunity to chat with readers, but it was also rewarding to make contact with several of my fellow local writers.
In the late afternoon we had a Meet the Author session involving six of the authors who were interviewed by Fiona Scott of Scott Media about aspects of their writing lives and their inspiration. At the end of the session, the audience were invited to ask questions.
Plans are already afoot to make next year’s book Fair an even bigger event as several more local authors are eager to join.
For me personally, one of the best things to come out of the day is the decision to set up a consortium of local writers and I’m delighted to say that things have already been set in motion.
My latest-work-in-progress – Passage to Greenland – is now with my beta-readers, so while I wait for their comments, its time for me to get down to creating a cover. A job I should have done weeks ago! At least I now have a good idea of what I would like.