Even at full size you'll probably have to press your nose right up against the screen in order to spot me, but I am there - I'm on the Other Stage and I'll be reading at approximately 3pm on Saturday. It's very exciting, daunting, and slightly surreal to see my name on a poster with the likes of Tom Jones, Joss Stone, John Cooper Clarke, and Pam Ayres!
The thought of reading in public always makes me apprehensive. Like many writers I think of my stories as existing in little bubbles that drift off into the world to be experienced by other people individually. It's a totally different prospect to the sort of collective experience you get at a public reading. In those situations so many more factors play a part. It's no longer just about the words on the page, with the author (hopefully) completely out of sight. The author is there, in plain sight, reading those words out loud, competing with other noises and disturbances as the band plays in the next tent and people wander in and out and phones go off and dogs bark for reasons known only to themselves.
Despite these perhaps less-than-ideal aspects for both author and audience, there is something very special about a story read out loud. For a listener, it can be particularly satisfying to hear a tale told by the person who wrote it. Not all writers are great readers, of course, but there's an authenticity to somebody reading their own words that very few actors can replicate. And for the author, it's a rare chance to experience an immediate and genuine reaction to what you have to say. Although that in itself is a pretty terrifying prospect.
So, I'm looking forward to it. I'm trying to counter the nerves by practising the stories I'm going to read, and thinking about what to say in-between the readings. Hopefully I'll be able to keep people entertained! I'll report back next week on how it all went.
My sincere thanks go to Sam at Books & Ink Bookshop in Banbury for putting me in touch with the festival organisers and helping to set this all in motion.