Parisot Literary Festival 2013: the Verdict

One of the team waiting for the onslaught

One of the team waiting for the onslaught

‘I [want to] congratulate you on a tremendous literary festival. We enjoyed it immensely and marvelled at the quality of writers you attracted.’ We’ve received many kind comments from people who attended the festival during the weekend of 11th-13th October. Even though it bucketed with rain on Saturday, we got good turnouts for all the events. The dust has settled and we’ve had our wash-up meeting.

The festival was a Franco-British event run by a joint team. We could have done with several extra hands, despite press-ganging spouses and other hangers-on into the fray. And we owe huge thanks to local people who put up authors overnight and looked after them. People said how smoothly everything went; they weren’t aware how fraught it was behind the scenes (‘Ducks paddling hard beneath the surface,’ as one author put it).

Words and music - storyteller and cellist

Words and music – storyteller and cellist

It started with a French words and music spectacle. The festival continued throughout Saturday and Sunday with a parallel series of workshops and author talks in French and English. The authors signed their books and we sold them.

Lunch with authors - Claude Clément (foreground, blue), Amanda Hodgkinson, (centre, blonde).

Lunch with authors – Claude Clément (foreground, blue), Amanda Hodgkinson, (right, blonde). Daniel Crozes’ arm is all you see of him in front of Claude. Maree Giles’ face is just visible on the left.

I won’t run through the programme in detail, which you can see here. We were fortunate to attract a wide range of authors with very different styles. They all talked in some way about the craft of writing and gave useful tips, e.g. use a computer without Internet access to avoid displacement activity. One for me. A writing friend said afterwards, ‘I must say I’m feeling very inspired after the weekend.’

Anne Dyson in full flow

Anne Dyson in full flow

In addition to author sessions, Anne Dyson, who ran the Greedy Goose cookery school in Aveyron, demonstrated making canapés. She managed to produce a dozen different tasty morsels in the space of an hour, while delivering a witty, informative and seamless spiel. She selected me as her assistant, which she might have come to regret, but I got to wear a rather nice white apron.

Some good tips from Anne:

  • parsley stalks have more flavour than the leaves, so don’t discard them
  • use a paintbrush instead of a pastry brush
  • let guests shell their own quails’ eggs!
Anne patiently explaining to her assistant

Anne patiently explaining to her assistant

We held a ‘meet the authors’ dinner on the Saturday. Seventy people crammed into the local auberge de La Castille, where an author hosted each table. The ambience was friendly and convivial, as it had been in the author sessions.

What did the authors themselves think? Here are just a couple of comments:

‘I had an absolute ball!  I knew it would be interesting but I had no idea how much I would enjoy myself, everyone was so lovely and the atmosphere was fantastic.’

‘I thought your festival was great and I was really pleased with the crowd that came to see me – a wonderful, interesting group of people and I felt there was a really warm ambience.’

Introducing Victoria Corby

Introducing Victoria Corby

Naturally, we could have done many things better. This was our first time running such an event and you certainly learn from experience. But its overall success shows what you can do in rural France with an enthusiastic team.

You can see more photos of festival events here.

A second festival is planned for next year. Watch this space.

Copyright © 2013 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

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About Vanessa Couchman

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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18 Responses to Parisot Literary Festival 2013: the Verdict

  1. Robert H.Fell. says:

    Four months have passed since this festival and I still recall it on an almost daily basis, it was such a pleasure to attend and as a newcomer to the writing world, that is, as a hopeful future writer, but currently wearing “L”plates, .attending lesson 1. .I listened, questioned and tried to learn..Looking forward to the next one later in the year.

    • nessafrance says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it and found it inspiring, Bob. I think we all still wear ‘L’ plates! I’m not involved in the organisation of the next one owing to other commitments but Gina will keep us all informed about what’s planned.

  2. What a fantastic event with so many authors. Must have taken a lot of organisation to coordinate. Love the idea of a dinner to bring everyone together in convivial surroundings.

    • nessafrance says:

      The whole event had a nice atmosphere, on which a number of people, including authors, have commented. Of course, nothing like this happens without a lot of behind the scenes work but the nice comments we’ve received are very gratifying.

  3. pfornari says:

    Wow, it sounds as though it was such fun! Well done, Vanessa!

    • nessafrance says:

      It was – on the organisational side, of course, you don’t have the chance to relax much but it was good to see that both public and authors enjoyed the event.

  4. Anita says:

    It was a wonderful weekend – I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival!

    • nessafrance says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And thank you for all your help. We couldn’t have done it without people like you hosting the authors.

  5. Speaking as one of the authors I can say it was super! Also that the organisation – of which Vanessa was one of the leading lights – was top notch.

    • nessafrance says:

      I am blushing virtually (and actually) as I read your comment! But I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. It really makes it all worthwhile.

  6. lizgyooll says:

    It all sounds great:) I am hoping we can finally be out of Italy by next year and come along too.

  7. susancarey says:

    Well done, Vanessa. It sounds like a super event. Keep up the good work!

  8. Sue Whatmough says:

    Congratulations on mounting such a super event. It sounded like a huge success – I only wish I could’ve attended but was in the UK. Next year I’ll be there if at all possible.

    • nessafrance says:

      Thanks, Sue. It seems to have gone down well. Maybe next year you could do something for us?

      • Sue Whatmough says:

        Hi Vanessa, Sorry I’ve only just caught up with your response to my comment. I’d be very happy to give a talk next year, on autobiographical writing for instance, if you think that would go down well.

      • nessafrance says:

        I’ll pass it on, Sue. I won’t actually be involved next year because of many other commitments – not least a family wedding around the time of the festival. However, I will give all your details to the organisers.

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