Wednesday, 6 April 2016
Queen of the Compost
... and so it was that First Light was launched at the Oxford Literary Festival on Monday. As the storytellers say, I wish you all had been there: and yet, of course, you were, because without your support this extraordinary book would never have come into being. And it is an extraordinary book: yes, I'm the editor, but looking down the list of contributors, and seeing so many of them in the Weston Library in Oxford that evening, there's nothing else to say. How often will you get to have a chat with Philip Pullman, Rowan Williams, Helen Dunmore & Michael Wood in a single evening? Not often, I reckon. And look -- here's a very good blog about the event from Annabel's House of Books -- thanks, Annabel! As for the title of this blog? Well -- when Alan got up and spoke, he described his works as being like compost, made from this and that, bedding down, slowly, wonderfully, turning into something rich and deep. And so... I was crowned Queen of the Compost. And I blushed, I really did. Here's a picture of the moment!
It was truly joyous to be able to celebrate Alan in this way -- and Griselda, too, without whom, well, nothing! And also to celebrate The Blackden Trust -- it's thanks to TBT that Alan and Griselda's work will continue to broaden its reach while staying firmly rooted in Cheshire, for years and decades to come, even as his books continue to work their magic.
And it is magic -- that's what came across from all the contributors as I spoke to them, and from Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian, and Neel Mukherjee, when we discussed his work just before the party in a terrific event at the Festival. You all know the kind of magic I mean: the kind that real literature works. As Neel said, he felt that Alan's books had chosen him, and not the other way round... a perfect expression, I think, of what we all feel.
As for the books -- well, the trade copies I saw at the Festival looked beautiful: but you will get your copies in a few weeks, and they will be even lovelier, though that's hard to imagine. I can't wait for you to hold them in your hands. Let me know what you think when you do.
So once again, my friends -- a huge thank you. Hurrah for us. First Light is shining, now!