Wednesday, 04 July 2012

Voewood Festival runs me

An exclusive glimpse into one of this year's hottest literary festivals

Written by Clare Conville

voewood clare

Heralded by The Observer as as one of “Our top 50 players in the world of books”, Clare started her career as an editor at Random House, before co-founding Conville & Walsh in 2000. A specialist in literary and commercial fiction, Clare's clients have won and been nominated for virtually every major literary prize. Here she gives The Lady an exclusive glimpse into her latest project, the hugely successful Voewood Festival...

 Am I running Voewood Festival? Or does it run me? If my sustaining fantasy was that having taken on the role of Co-curator-Director of Voewood I would somehow be re-incarnated as a modern-day Ottoline Morrell to waft around the enchanted gardens of Voewood wearing an Edwardian shift, pearls and a fetchingly battered large-brimmed straw-hat, those thoughts have long been dispelled.

Although I have three children,  work as a literary agent looking after some sixty authors and at some point over the summer have to sit down and start work on a new book, I agreed last winter to take the festival to a second summer. So it goes like this:-  LISTS. I think about lists, I dream about lists, I worry about lists, I write lists on bits of paper, on legs and arms, on passing walls and across the foreheads of small unsuspecting children who come to tea.

My fantasy list goes something like this:-

Ask Paddy to put up “All events sold out. See you next year” Across front of web-site.

Order 12 crates of champagne

Ensure that super helpful pop-star’s PR team get VIP treatment

Book week’s holiday at Chateau Mirambeau starting September 1st

Find accommodation for Sandy Burnett (very good-looking apparently)

Have time to fall in love (which really would be nice)

The real list goes like this:-



Victoria Sponge-cake X  1,000

Charm recalcitrant pop-star: Send camels? Dancing-girls? Lotus-eaters

Tweet re :- Endangered Bees

Think about “dynamic pricing”

voewood boy

The lists never get smaller and in my dreams they sometimes merge into one an unfolding road of never-ending things to do. At the moment it’s hard to see the bigger picture but I know from experience that the festival is inexorable, it will happen. From 24th-27th August people will buy tickets and come and eat and drink delicious food and cocktails and listen to inspiring artists and writers talk about their work or play wonderful music and they’ll have a great time and all the hard work and the planning and the bits of paper with hand-writing – my own – which I can’t read will have been worthwhile but meanwhile the next big promotional event is at The Book-Hive in Norwich in 12th July, the best small independent bookshop  in the UK and the list goes on

Cucumbers (for Hendrick’s Gin)

Window display

Train-tickets for authors

Umbrellas (x30)

Bribe daughter to run box office

Re-double efforts to charm recalcitrant pop-star (put ad in Holt Chronicle for Lotus Eaters?)

But for the first time I can feel that quiet shimmer of excitement because the Book-Hive launch next week will be the ying to Voewood’s yang. A small scale event but nevertheless crammed with interesting guests:- novelists Louisa Young and Kirsty Gunn, award-winning poet Hannah Walker, book-dealer and raconteur Simon Gough and columnist and newly stand-up comedienne Rowan Pelling. It’s a taster of glorious things to come and we’ll drink gin and tonics and people will come and have fun and buy tickets for the festival itself and I’m guaranteeing that the sun will shine throughout the August Bank Holiday. So, that’s alright then. Now, where are my pearls?

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