There’s a lot to be said for going to a literary festival to hear a talk from a famed and lauded author, a grizzled ink-smith who has survived the long haul in the challenging world of literature. Of course there is. It’s a thrill to see and hear from a writer whose face you know, whose work you’ve been following and whose characters feel like part of the family.
But, equally, there can be a different thrill in hearing from a young author still in the foothills of their career; still caught up in the excitement of their first excursion into professional writing.
Libby Page is such an author. She’s very new. “The Lido” is her debut novel. It was her first attempt at writing a novel. Her appearance at the Swindon Festival of Literature was her first appearance at a literary festival. She’s more than new. She is new-new.
The book is about a local community’s campaign to prevent the closure of a Lido in Brixton led by a 20-something reporter and an 86 year old widow. The tale is based on a the real Brockwell Lido in South London which was closed for a number of years but eventually reopened thanks to the efforts of the local community there.
Page believes that places like these, pools, libraries and similar spaces, are essential to the vitality of the community. She practices what she preaches as well, being a keen patron of her local Lido and tends to plans holidays and excursion on places where there is the opportunity for open air swimming.
Her passion for writing, during her onstage conversation with Josie Cowgill, was unmistakable. She’s been signed two a two-book publishing deal (she’s currently working on the first draft of her second book) and ‘The Lido’ is to be potentially made into a film.
But mainly she’s excited to be able to have left her job and concentrate on writer for a living. It’s quite clear that writing is the passion that fires her and she seemed alight with joyous disbelief that the possibility of doing so professionally has been made real.
And the audience at the Art Centre last night were able to see her near the start of her excellent adventure.