Midas PR’s CEO Jacks Thomas writes on the Chiswick Book Festival

Book Festivals come in all shapes and sizes – from Hay-on-Wye to Edinburgh, from Chiswick to Cheltenham. One of the things I love about the Chiswick Book Festival is that, even though it’s only in its second year, the calibre of authors rivals that of the long-established festivals. What’s more, they are as complimentary about Chiswick and the reception we give them as they are about our alliterative fellow festival in Cheltenham.

Organising a festival is terrifying, frustrating and exhilarating in equal measure… but all worth it when you see a packed audience for Sir Terry Pratchett, spellbound children for the brilliant children’s festival masterminded by Katherine Solomon and the W4 history enthusiasts who flocked to hear Michael Wood and Lucy Worsley. Add to the mix national literary greats such as Claire Tomalin, Robert McCrum and Andrew Motion, and the festival certainly delivered a rich variety for West London book lovers.

But to my mind, festivals are also about showcasing debut authors, writing that really opens up another world and giving local authors a platform in their own backyard. Local author George Goodwin is publishing his first history book in the Spring; W4 resident, Zaiba Malik’s ‘We are a Muslim, please’ was a huge critical success and she talked to a rapt audience about the wonderful memoir of her childhood in Bradford; and Noel ‘Razor’ Smith offered first hand insight on whether or not prison works to local MP Angie Bray and a packed audience at the Tabard Theatre. 

We also included a literary tea this year to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth. Combining a star from an ITV Marple adaptation, Kevin McNally with Christie expert and author Val McDermid proved to be a winning formula.

Books come in all shapes and sizes – we had a taster of cookery writers this year and hope to open a new chapter next year with even more variety of books, authors and creative writing.

So, what next? Well, the Sofa Workshop who so generously sponsored the author marquee are holding their first literary evening in-store on December 10th, where readers are guaranteed a comfortable seat from which to hear bestselling local author, Rosamund Lupton. Meanwhile, the schedule is open for 2011.

Jacks Thomas
CEO, Midas Public Relations