Last night, I read my story A Beltane Prayer at the University of Edinburgh, as part of the latest fab event since the Umbrellas of Edinburgh anthology launched last autumn. What with having never read this story aloud before and not having done a public reading since October, I was more than a bit nervous.
I shouldn’t have been. The thing with literary Edinburgh is that no matter how rotten you feel, as soon as you’re in amongst it you feel miles better. Which was handy, because I’m currently in the pallid, rattly, exhausted phase of pneumonia recovery and kind of needed to feel less like death warmed up. And, as all good literati know, the best way to do that is with free wine.
The audience was fairly small, but then again so was the venue, which was pretty full! The best part was that, aside from my long-suffering OH and one of Team Story Shop, it was a sea of new faces. New, young faces, because as I found out recently, Umbrellas of Edinburgh is now part of this module, being studied by English Literature undergrads, and the lady teaching the module announced she was bringing all her students along to the event.
I’m part of a book on an actual degree course. Let that sink in. Also, I’ve never had such a rapt, attentive audience. Or one that was making actual notes in notebooks about my excellent adjectives or something.
It was also a massive ego-boost to get whispered compliments on how well I read from the other Umbrellas contributors. I was very gleeful indeed at the post-event drinks and nibbles, especially as I found out a lot of the students were feeling super-inspired to go out into Edinburgh and write their own stories about their favourite areas. Hearing you’ve inspired others to write is, like, the best thing.
And, as an added bonus, most of the dozen books sold on the night, which were all that’s left of the print run – people couldn’t find them in Edinburgh bookshops, because they’d all sold out! (And no wonder, when we get actual whole displays like this in town. How fab.)
So, big thanks to Claire and Russell who brought the whole thing together, James at the University of Edinburgh for being an excellent reader and provider of wine, all the readers I met and imbibed with (especially Pete Mackay, who was replete with both Irish horror recommendations and sitcom ideas for me), and everyone who came along to support me (and ask me to scribble on their books, thus infinitely decreasing their value). Now, let’s see if we can’t persuade Freight to give this fab anthology a second print run, eh? ❤