Across the moorland from Bolton to Blackburn last night, very appropriate for the Lancashire launch of Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontes. We thought we weren't going to get there in time (John drove me): we'd allowed an hour and three-quarters (thinking we'd have a coffee beforehand) but the motorway up to Bolton was jammed and at a crawl. Arriving also by the skin of their teeth were the other two readers, Carys Davies and Sarah Dobbs. Our waiting editor, A (Andrea) J Ashworth must have been having kittens! The library ladies were waiting too with very welcome tea and chocolate biscuits. A lovely warm crowd had come to hear us read, and to hear Andrea talk about the book, many of them Bronte enthusiasts, including someone in a Wuthering Heights T-shirt, though there were people there too whose interest in the Brontes was newly rekindled. Two people told Andrea afterwards that they had been prompted by the event to re-read Jane Eyre beforehand. We had some wonderful photos taken by Derren Lee Poole, and with his kind permission I include a few below.
Here's Andrea introducing the evening and explaining how she suggested the idea of an anthology to the Bronte Birthplace Trust, and was then asked to edit it:
Sarah read from her moving story, 'Behind All the Closed Doors', about a young boy whose mother has died and who finds comfort in books in the way the Brontes did. She left us all moved and thoughtful (as I think you can see from my face in the pic!).
Carys then read her poignant story, 'Bonnet', about an imagined visit by Charlotte Bronte to her London publisher with whom she is known to have been in love, and concerning real-life letters that did pass between them. I think it must have been hard for Carys to read it without crying and many of us were choked up, I think.
Before she read Carys said that she thought Bronte aficionados tend to fall into two different camps, the Charlotte camp and the Emily camp. Here I am about to read and telling her that in fact I loved both when I was young, though maybe I did incline a little more towards Emily, as my story, which is inspired by Wuthering Heights, perhaps shows:
Lots of books were bought and signed. Thank you so much to the lovely audience, to the library staff, to Andrea, to Carys and Sarah and to Derren.
Red Room is available here.