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The marquee gradually filled with a chatter of ladies and a scattering of men. There was a warm receptive feeling in the air, as the two lady authors arrived.
I didn’t recognise the names of either of them so I didn’t know what to expect. Mavis Cheek stood up and announced that she had forgotten her glasses and could she borrow a pair.
At this a number of willing members of the audience jumped up happy to oblige and I settled in for a jolly time.
After some chat, where I couldn’t help but heartily laugh along with this witty lady, Mavis read from her latest book.
Melissa Bank then stood up and I wondered whether she will be as engaging as Mavis? She started to read straight away and I started laughing again, at how she describes being at a party and aware that she is older than the other girls there. It was like listening to an adult version of Jackanory. I loved Jackanory…maybe I should get into Radio 4 instead of always listening to Radio 1, hmm.
After this there was a question and answer section that allowed both authors to share their thoughts on the use of the term chick lit and the connotations that this term has.
Melissa said that she preferred the term comedy of manners to describe her genre of literature. Mavis said that she felt that Publishers have a difficult job marketing humorous women. Although, as Melissa pointed out there is no middle-aged white man section as their work is seen as universal.
Mavis described her work as ‘now the old boiling fowl lit’. I felt that both ladies were being incredibly diplomatic in addressing the issue and personally feel that chic lit is an insulting and limiting term, and has put me off reading a book.
They then discussed how to encourage would-be writers and Melissa quoted Billy Conn, ‘Sit in the dark and wait for a flame to light at the end of your pencil’.
Melissa had worked in Advertising for ten years and wrote at night. At last the festival had delivered, as it was both inspiring and thought provoking. My only disappointment was that after buying their books, I was too shy to get them autographed. Shame on me.