After a lengthy time at the writing and editorial coalface, I decided to skive yesterday afternoon. With my other my half in tow, we went to Ledbury. For those who don’t know the place, it’s, without doubt, the loveliest market town in Herefordshire, with strong cultural ties to literature. Many poets have lived there, including W.H. Auden, John Masefield and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I’ve personally seen Sir Roy Strong (art historian, writer and broadcaster) strolling down the high street and, joy of joy, there is not one, but three independent bookshops, which in a smallish place, is astonishing.  

Walking past Ledbury Books and Maps, I screeched to a halt. Outside the entrance, an ‘A’ board announced that there was to be a Ledburied (ingeniously named) event on the 19th January 2023, featuring Anna Mazzola and Lucie McKnight Hardy. I briefly worked with Anna on her acclaimed novel, The Unseeing, and we met at CrimeFest a few years ago.  Unable to resist finding out more, I walked straight in and got chatting to owner, Lindsay, who is one of the nicest bookshop owners ever – and extremely knowledgeable.  

She told me that the brainchild of Ledburied is none other than Sarah Hilary, local crime fiction author, (think No Other Darkness and her series character, DI Marnie Rome.)  The idea is to give writers an opportunity to talk about their craft on a regular basis. I kicked myself hard and long for missing out on the October event, featuring Mick Herron, spy writer, whose series of ‘Slough House’ novels are now screened on Apple TV. 

Lindsay is attracting big name authors and it won’t be long before there’s a stampede of publishers keen to make use of these events. So if you’re in the area, definitely drop in. If you can’t make it, you can still buy a book or three from the huge selection, featuring all genres.

There’s not a lot of festive magic about right now, but yesterday afternoon was definitely one of those moments.