The other day I wrapped up in several extra layers of clothing and braved the arctic blast to attend a talk by local author Deborah Swift at Windermere library.
The talk, which concentrated on research and the processes of writing the books rather than the books themselves, lived up to my expectations and more. It was fascinating to hear about the differences between researching daily life in London and Cumbria in the seventeenth century, for instance. Apparently, although there are far more records for London, that in itself is limiting because everything is already known, so there's less scope to shoe-horn new characters, events or places in. In Cumbria, which was very rural and had far fewer records, there's more space for artistic licence.
It was also fun to learn the differences between British and American readers' perceptions of book covers. Britain prefers warm, vibrant colours, lots of gilt, and large script that stands out on the shelf, but all of those things spell 'trashy' to American readers who expect small fonts and dull colourson the covers of any books percieved to be 'literary'.
The whole event lasted for nearly two hours, and although the group was quite small, that made it all the more chatty and interesting, as the audience were able to participate - asking questions and comparing Ms Swift's experiences to our own - far more than if the room had been full. And considering we got all that, plus tea/coffee and a mince pie, and an opportunity to buy books and have them autographed, all for the princely sum of £1, it was an afternoon of exception value and enjoyment.