I had a great weekend at the Shrewsbury Lit Fest. The organisers had done a good job on the publicity front, with articles in the Shropshire Star and the Shropshire Magazine. The smart brochure for the festival had me on the same page as Manda Scott, one of my favourite writers, which I felt very excited about! We went to her event and she turned out to be every bit as interesting in person as she is in writing. Both of our events were at the Unitarian Church, where Charles Darwin was a regular worshipper.
I enjoyed talking about Stranger In My Heart, especially as many in the audience were people who’d known Dad. It really strikes a chord with people when I speak about the ‘one sentence legend’ that we have about a parent or grandparent and what they did in the war. The silence of World War participants, especially combatants, seems almost universal. People recognise that the next generation down don’t even have the ‘one sentence legend’ and so will have no reason to enquire into the lives of individuals from the World War generations. My campaign to rescue these stories before they get lost forever is gathering pace as I am now an approved speaker for the WI, following my audition last week. I already have two bookings for next year!
Of course the best thing about the weekend was visiting family and catching up with old friends who’d come to the Festival. Sadly, my mum is no longer able to go to events but I showed her the various press articles about it. In the town Square there was a Peoples Vote stall, with an Emergency Poet in attendance. Love it!
Gosh it’s been a busy couple of months! Lots to tell you about Stranger In My Heart, along with upcoming events. I also had lovely outings to Burghley Horse Trials and the Frida Kahlo exhibition, caught up with old friends from Australia and spent 10 days touring Portugal in wall-to-wall sunshine – heaven!
Novel Nights is a regular literary gathering, with events in Bath and Bristol. I was fortunate to be chosen to speak at their ‘telling other people’s stories’ evening, where I was interviewed about my book and then read a short extract. A discussion followed the main speaker (Xan Brooks) about how writers can speak for others authentically – even if they are a different gender, race, ethnicity or species!
I also spoke at Bath University’s One World week, focusing on the Chinese history, culture and language aspects of my book. My talk was recorded and will be available for students/staff to view on the University’s intranet. The same week I joined a gang of Unbound authors at the Bristol Literary Festival to speak about crowdfunding and book marketing. It was great fun and I was proud to join such a talented, creative group of writers. We presented to an appreciative audience of about 40 at the Arnolfini’s Front Room. Lovely venue, great tech support (essential!).
Unbounders at Bristol Lit Fest 2018
There has been more press coverage of Stranger In My Heart in Family Tree Magazine (December 2018 – out now in newsagents) and a lovely review in the Journal of the Royal Artillery (Autumn 2018)
Family Tree Magazine (Dec 2018)
Journal of Royal Artillery (Autumn 2018)
Next up is the Shrewsbury Lit Festival – do please come along if you can – and an audition with the WI!
So far I have 25 customer reviews on Amazon. Can you help me make it 30? All you have to do is search Stranger In My Heart by Mary Monro and then scroll down to the button marked ‘write a customer review’. You don’t need to have bought the book from Amazon, but you must have spent £40 with them in the last year.
The launch party pictures appeared in issue 372 of Bath Life which you can find online here on page 14. It has proved very difficult to find a print copy and in the end Mr Mayor kindly provided me with one!
There was an article about the book and my travels to China in Odynovo Tours’ latest newsletter. My dear friend Col Martin Lilley has written a brilliant review of my book for The Gunner magazine, which will reach the veterans of the Royal Artillery.
I am preparing some talks about the book for the autumn. I will be speaking at the University of Bath on 23 October, auditioning as a speaker for the WI on 22 November and speaking at the Shrewsbury Lit Fest on Saturday 24th November at 1pm. Please do come along!
While I have been pacing up and down, waiting for actual, real live, genuine paperback copies of my book to land on my doorstep; and, while crossing everything crossable that my beloved supporters will get their copies before the public launch date of 9th June, I have been generating PR. I have done Q&As for Bath Life Magazine and Odynovo – the tour operator that I used for my trips to China. I will add the interviews here when they are published. I have also got speaking gigs at the Bristol Lit Fest in October and the Shrewsbury Lit Fest in November 2018.
It’s not long till the launch party in Bath for Stranger In My Heart and I have been ordering special fortune cookies, refining the Spotify playlist, dreaming up decorations and looking forward to chef’s Asian inspired canapes. I am so excited to be welcoming the Mayor of Bath, the current Commanding Officer of Dad’s regiment (19RA, the Scottish Gunners), the ‘next generations’ of Dad’s colleagues from Hong Kong, the person who set the whole book in train and, not least, friends and family who supported the book to get it published.
To calm myself down I have been gardening and watching foals being born. Actually that’s just as exciting.