On Saturday (3 November) I attended The Welsh Academy’s inaugural Writers’ Fair in Cardiff.
The fair took place in the theatre at The Gate in Roath, a beautifully refurbished church with an art gallery, café, the theatre and no doubt much more.
This is the theatre, taken from the side of the stage:
The central space was filled with seats, and I estimated that there were around 200 in the audience.
It’s the first event of this kind that I’ve attended, and I had no idea what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day and hope that this will now become an annual event.
The first panel presented Introduction to E-publishing and Digital Futures. This was chaired by poet and Aberystwyth University professor Damian Walford Davies and featured Claire Houguez (Editor and Marketing officer at Parthian), Elwyn Jones (Director of The Welsh Books Council), and Alison John (Producer for Yello Brick, a brand new media company who present playful narratives and events using digital platforms). The panel discussed ways in which the publishing sector is evolving and expanding through the use of technology, and how writers can use this in their work; they also answered questions from the audience. It proved to be a very informative and interesting session.
At 11.30 we were given a choice of two simultaneous events…
- Genre Writing with science fiction author Jasper Fforde and crime novelist Belinda Bauer.
- Marwolaeth y Siop Lyfrau (The Death of the Book Shop – Welsh Language Event) a panel discussion about the future of the book shop in Wales with Elwyn Jones, Eirian James, Gareth F Williams, and chaired by Catrin Beard.
I’d have preferred the opportunity to attend both sessions, but I knew that I’d struggle to understand or take part in most of the Welsh language one, so I stayed in the main hall for a very informative and entertaining session with the two novelists, which included some excellent exchanges with the audience.
We had a break for lunch and networking between 12.30 and 2.00 pm, during which I chatted with several women but felt too shy to approach any of the guest panellists, most of whom were chatting (not eating!) throughout the entire break.
At 2 pm there was another choice of two simultaneous events…
- International Opportunities for Writers with Nia Davies from Welsh Literature Exchange and 2012 Wales Book of the Year winning author Jon Gower, who has spent time writing abroad.
- Wicipedia Cymraeg (Welsh Wikipedia – Welsh Language Event) with Carl Morris from Hacio’r Iaith and the author Robin Llwyd ab Owain.
I opted for the former, and enjoyed the guests’ anecdotes.
At 3.00 there was a bilingual panel, The Art of Self-Promotion / Y Grefft o Hunan-hyrwyddo with author and arts critic Jasper Rees, social media consultant Emma Meese, and poet Osian Rhys Jones. This offered an insight into how writers can use the internet and social media as effective tools for self-promotion, and again there were some lively discussions with the audience.
We were given another choice at 4.00 pm of two simultaneous events…
- A Novel Pitch – Jasper Rees and Angela Graham will be offering invaluable advice on how to pitch your creative ideas, in person or in writing, to a publisher or agent.
- Golygu Creadigol – y Gyfrinach Fawr (Welsh Language Event) – An insight to creative editing and its importance for the success of the Welsh novel with panellists Bethan Mair Hughes, Alun Jones and Tony Bianchi.
Again, I’d have liked the opportunity to attend both, but I stayed in the main hall for the Novel Pitch panel which was very informative and helfpul.
I had to leave at 5.00 pm in order to catch my train home, so I missed the final event (Readings from eminent Welsh authors Christine James and Jon Gower). I felt rather sad to go, as it had been an immensely enjoyable and interesting day during which I’d met some very friendly people, made several new contacts, and taken copious very useful notes.