Reading is our passion here in Richmond upon Thames Libraries and our mission is to get more people reading. We aim to provide you with not only inspiring things to read, but also with opportunities to discover authors you may not have tried before.

The Literature Festival

In addition to the services at our 13 libraries and via our eLibraries, we run an active programme of author events and writers’ workshops throughout the year, of which the annual Richmond upon Thames Literature Festival each November is one of the absolute highlights. In 2017 we were delighted to work in partnership with Richmond upon Thames Arts Service to host more Literature Festival events in libraries than ever before. Over 920 readers came to those library hosted events to enjoy hearing authors talking passionately about their books.

“I found a new author by seeing them speak at the library and now have read all their books!” (an event attendee)

Something for everyone

The 2017 programme offered something for every conceivable taste. You could hear the history of Sunnis and Shi’is from John McHugo; discover the ‘story’ of the ‘village’ in Britain with Tom Fort or the meaning of ‘craeft’ with Alexander Langlands; ‘shout in the evening’ with National Theatre actor James Hayes ; or learn more about Anthony Powell, Martin Luther or Charles Darwin from guest speakers Hilary Spurling, Peter Stanford and A.N. Wilson.  There were actually 43 events overall across the festival, located all around the borough and attended by around 4,000 people! All the events were amazing, informative and fascinating, this short list is just some of those that happened to be hosted in libraries.

New formats!

A panel of local crime and thriller writers were invited to talk at Twickenham Library. We’ve  done  panels before but this was the first made up of entirely local writers. Chaired by the Libraries Reading Manager, authors Michelle Birkby, Emma Curtis and Jess Kidd agreed to team up and talk about their latest novels and the process of writing. Birkby, Curtis and Kidd have each mined the dark seams of mystery and suspense and written tales that strike chords of unease amongst their readers…

Meet the authors

Michelle Birkby is the author of The House at Baker Street and The Women of Baker Street, the first two books in the successful Mrs Hudson and Mary Watson Investigations series. Her debut was nominated for a CWA Historical Dagger and she lives in Hampton Hill.

Jess Kidd has taught creative writing and gained an MA and PhD in Creative Writing Studies from St Mary’s University, Twickenham. Her debut novel, Himself, was published in 2016 and her second novel, The Hoarder, was released spring 2018. She lives in Richmond.

Emma Curtis was born in Brighton and brought up in London. Her fascination with the darker side of domestic life inspired her to write One Little Mistake, her first psychological suspense. She lives in Richmond.

Behind the writing

At first glance the three writers don’t look too similar, beyond a general dark sort of crime / thriller vibe; but actually there were a lot of common points for discussion. The importance of characterisation in all the books and importance of the settings was a key similarity.  We talked about how the writers choose those things, where their ideas come from and how they go about shaping them. We also talked about the way that the writers think of the crime element of their books, whether they see it as the main plot or just as a device to explore other themes. The three authors were all happy to offer tips for other aspiring writers and to talk about their actual writing process as well – whether they are neat and methodical plotters or gung ho ‘see where the story goes’ types.

A winning formula

‘Fascinated to hear three different author’s take on the creative process’ (audience member)

It really was great to get three such interesting perspectives from home grown writers, working in our local area. I hope there will be many more such events to delight our audiences and broaden their reading horizons.

‘I enjoyed all of it! Now all those books to read – where will I find the time?’ (audience member)

Why not come along to the next Richmond Literature Festival this coming November? You’ll be both informed and entertained, find a new author you love and learn new things while you are there. There will be plenty of events both in libraries around the borough and in other exciting venues. Right now we are working with the Richmond Arts Service on the programme for 2018 , and we already know it will be fantastic! Here in libraries, we are looking forward to seeing you and to sharing the joy of reading. Remember to book your tickets early in the autumn so you don’t miss out.

[Cheney Gardner, Reading Manager]