This week I went to the Hay Festival. I’ve been to Hay-on-Wye before, but never to the festival itself. Even better, I was going to join in the celebrations for 25 years of my publisher, the amazing Honno Press.
After weeks of glorious sunshine, it was a cold, blustery day when I arrived with fellow Honno author Hilary Shepherd at the rather muddy parking field next to the festival site. It was soon clear why most people were decked out in coats and wellies. But luckily the rain held off, the flags waved cheerfully in the breeze and the flowers were blooming.
There was so much to see! I had a lovely relaxing day wandering around the festival, soaking up the atmosphere and meeting up with friends for coffee and a leisurely chat.
In the afternoon it warmed up a bit and the sun began to appear, just in time for the Honno party. There was champagne and a beautiful cake made in the shape of three of Honno’s books stacked one on top of the other. And balloons, of course.
Best of all, it was an opportunity to meet some of the founder members of Honno, part of that determined group of women who met around a kitchen table in Cardiff a quarter of a century ago, with a mission to bring Welsh women’s literature to a wider public. Plus meeting fellow Honno authors and friends I’d knew so well via the internet but had never met face to face before.
Afterwards, there was a lively and thought-provoking discussion about the need for Honno in the 80s, when the literary establishment was most definitely male. The discussion clearly affirmed the continued relevance of a press that nurtures women’s voices in all their diversity and puts women’s experiences and life-journeys firmly centre stage.
I had a wonderful time in Hay. I shall be most definitely going again, this time to take in more of the talks and the events.
My only disappointment when I went into the Hay Festival bookshop was the total lack of any sign of ‘Eden’s Garden’. Hey ho. Philosophical won out. Honno is a small press, and this is Hay. It would have been nice, but ….
Then when we arrived at the Honno party, there were our books – all ready to be signed! And when – being book addicts to a woman – we all gravitated back into the bookstore after the discussion, there were our books on the ‘Signed Books’ table. That was one hit of a buzz I will never forget! In all my long years of working towards being published, I never even dreamed I would one day be fearlessly manoeuvring my signed book to a prominent position on the signed books table at Hay. Strictly for the purposes of taking the photograph, you understand.