Derby Book Festival 2018
I managed to get along to a few events at the Derby Book Festival this year, I was especially interested to compare and learn from the event in relation to our own festival The Oakwood Literature Festival which was launched a few weeks before for the first time.
The main differences were obviously price – our festival is free entry and lasts for a day, the Derby one is paid for entry to each session and runs for over a week. Ours is also for Indie authors and the Derby one is for the bigger names in the writing and publishing world. There the differences end because the quality of the books at both is no different. The reviews are also no different except that with the bigger names, they can generate more reviews due to the marketing and publishing companies behind them.
#1 Flu Pandemic 1918
The first session attended, for me had to be one relating to health because of my nursing background. We have been preparing for years for the next big pandemic and this book is a stark reminder as to why that should be.
The format of the session was interesting as Catharine was interviewed by a Scottish professor from the University of Derby. Highlighted was the sheer scale of the pandemic and the worldwide deaths that took place. There were two things of note that came out of the research for the book:
1) Because the pandemic was at the end of the worst war in living memory, the pandemic is forgotten by many as the focus has always been on the war ending. This virus termed ‘Spanish Flu’ wiped out over 50 million people worldwide and in many countries killed more people than World War I! I can say, from experience that the people who didn’t forget were those that lost relatives. During my nursing career, almost every elderly person I nursed lost someone in the pandemic whereas not everyone lost someone in the war – I remember one gentleman who lost both his parents to the pandemic flu of 1918 that scourged the earth for a year after the war. Needless to say, I bought the book and had a brief chat with the author at the end of the session. Catharine Arnold specialises in historical non-fiction.
2) The role of nursing as a profession grew during this time and nurses’ were recognised as professionals following this outbreak. Of course, many nurses died themselves due to their close proximity to the sufferers but they cared for the sick, undeterred by the risks.
This still happens today, nurses and doctors put themselves at the frontline in order to care for patients and, while aware of the risks, they continue to do so. Think of the nurses and doctors who treated people in the early 1980s – yours truly included, who had HIV and AIDs before there was any cure. Many nurses have contracted hepatitis in their line of work and healthcare professionals continue to volunteer to go to countries to treat people with infectious diseases such as ebola.
The only answer the author gave where I might differ is that when asked if another flu pandemic could be as bad, she suggested not. One thing is certain, if another pandemic this size does hit, it will spread far faster due to ease of travel and as these pandemics tend to hit the young rather than the old who have some immunity – it could indeed wipe out another generation worldwide. On the plus side, there are vaccines and anti-viral treatments that were not available in 1918 and these could ensure that such a pandemic does not have the same effect.
Another really good book on the subject is Pale Rider by Laura Spinney
#2 Feminist Friday
This session took place in the form of a talk by Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and a women’s activist. This was a measured delivery which challenged how far we think we have come with regards to women’s rights in the twenty-first century. Designed to make one think, I found this session challenging and it highlighted how far we still have to go before women are treated equally to men in terms of recognition, promotion and equal pay. Helen did provide some positive strides that have been taken and the recent ‘Me too’ campaign seems to be having a positive worldwide impact in challenging behaviours that have previously been tolerated
In addition to this I visited a small suffragette exhibition where lifesize models telling the story of suffrage had been created from paper.
#3 Book Fair
Derby Book Fair as Part of Derby Book Festival
The book fair was held in St. Peters Church in the city centre and I was invited to host a stall there. We enjoyed the day and I met many people who showed an interest in the Oakwood Literature Festival and who will more than likely attend next year. It is always interesting and motivating to meet other authors and I met up with some I already knew and some I hadn’t met before. All in all it was a positive day, although it wasn’t as well attended as the one held last year in the Silk Mill.
The Silk Mill is currently closed for two years for refurbishment.
#4 Mystery Fiction
I was obviously going to be interested in this talk having, myself published a murder mystery novel, A Cruise to Murder this year! Jessica’s novel is based on the true story of the eldest of the Mitford sisters, Nancy and the also true, brutal murder of a nurse on a train in 1919. It is a mixture of history and fiction.
Jessica, the niece of Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey creator will be writing six novels and each one will be based around the life of one of the sisters. Her talk was enlightening and engaging and she was very honest about some of the difficulties she is likely to encounter as she writes about each sister in turn, particularly with the two who became close to Adolf Hitler! At the other end of the spectrum one of the sisters renounced her fortune and became a communist. I will also be interested when she turns her attention to Deborah who turned Chatsworth House into the success that it is today and it is just up the road from Derby where I live.
If you would like to take a look at my novel which has been compared to a modern Downton Abbey, set on a cruise ship with a sprinkling of murder – click on the picture.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the talks I attended and I also enjoyed the talks given by authors who attended the Oakwood Literature Festival. Do join us next year on Saturday 18th May for the second FREE entry event. We will have a host of interesting authors and talks lined up, plus children’s activities and events on the day.