Last Friday I did my first real public reading on Novel London’s historical fiction evening at Waterstones Islington. I say the first real reading as my only previous reading was for only a couple of minutes in front of fellow students and some agents at the Faber Academy. There was something protected about reading in front of friends and colleagues who were in the same boat, standing in a familiar room. This was a real bookshop!
As an unpublished writer, I hadn’t realised that opportunities like this were open to me until I saw a random tweet calling out for submissions for historical fiction. I didn’t think I’d get chosen but read the submission guidelines (very important, always!) and sent in my work. I was very surprised to get a phone call from Safeena Chaudhry (who runs the nights) a few weeks later. The evening featured myself and Kay Seeley, an indie author who has published two novels. She was reading from her latest, The Watercress Girls, like mine set in the Victorian period.
Safeena started Novel London as a response to the lack of new novelists being read at events she attended. Combining her love of novels and documenting events (she is a trained camera operator and editor), Novel London was set up to showcase new fiction from unpublished, indie and traditionally published novelists. The readings are filmed and then uploaded to the Novel London website.
The other part of the Novel London experience is the coaching aspect. We arrived an hour or so before the evening was due to begin and met with Norma Cohen. Norma is a writer, actor and professional coach, and works with all novelists prior to their performance. For me, this was an invaluable experience, learning how to inject tone and connect with the audience. I found that it also helped with nerves!
For me, this experience was mainly about boosting my confidence and learning how to read better. For those with physical books, it’s also an opportunity to sell some books. It’s a great platform for debut novelists, and all previous events are documented on the Novel London website. The event runs on the first Friday of every month, sponsored by Cameron Publicity and Marketing. The next event is on Friday 5th August at the Swedenborg Society. Tickets will be available shortly (free) on the Novel London website. If you are even having the tiniest thought that this may be something that you’re interested in then please check out the website and the Submissions section. You may as well give it a go!