I love the annual Bold Strokes Books UK festival. I’ve attended for the past five years (four of them as a BSB author) and amazingly, each year it gets better and better. This year was no exception to that rule, and when nigh on thirty Bold Strokes authors converged on Nottingham last weekend, it was a real treat. What I love about this festival is the wonderfully informal atmosphere, the accessibility of the authors, and the enthusiasm of the readers who attend. Last weekend saw a whole host of new readers coming to the festival for the first time, and I hope that now they’ve been and seen what it’s about and how much fun it is, they’ll keep on coming—as if the draw of our books were not enough, then to be in with a chance of winning bizarre toys surely appeals! Next year is the tenth anniversary of the event, so Victoria (aka Brey Willows) and I will be working super hard to make sure it matches the buzz of the weekend just passed. Watch this space for news of how to book your early-bird tickets and for the post-event questionnaire, which we’d really appreciate if you took five minutes to complete.
It was lovely to catch up with people, meet new readers, and spend the whole weekend concentrating on the fantastical world of LGBTQ fiction that we all create. One thing that struck me was the sheer diversity of the people who joined us. We attracted everyone from college and university students to pensioners and a whole range in between. People who would never usually orbit the same space were brought together by the power of words, and they were hosted in a safe queer space. A space where there was no fear of judgement; where a guy was comfortable in a dress, a transgender woman could be herself without the pejorative stare of the narrow-minded ass, and a gender fluid reader could simply be.
Such an environment is not to be taken for granted, and it was made possible by our terrifically generous publisher, Radclyffe. (And I did love Valden Bush’s response as she was introduced! Her “Oh my!” was accompanied with quite the swoon.) Radclyffe’s commitment to developing and crafting quality LGBTQ fiction, to supporting her ever-growing stable of authors, and to producing books to keep LGBTQ fiction alive is second to none. And, my gentle ribbing and tongue-in-cheek irreverence aside, there are not the appropriate words to express my gratitude for her continuing contribution to our community. Its impact cannot be underestimated, and I think it was evident in each and every one of the readers and authors who were present for the event.
As it gets bigger, it’s harder to make sure you have the time to talk to everyone who’s taken the time to attend, so for all of those wonderful readers I could only say “Hi” to in passing, thank you so much for coming and making it such a great event. Brey and I hope to see you at GCLS, EllCon, and Manchester Pride! In the meantime, keep reading, and all of us will keep on writing for you.