Yesterday evening I attended All Hallows Read, an event put on by The Culture Hour and hosted at Brewsmiths Coffee and Tea in the Jewellery Quarter. In a cute independent venue offering homemade cake and a plethora of drinks, I immediately felt at home in the spacious environment, settled on a comfy settee next to a fully stacked bookshelf. Even better, customers are welcome to purchase hardbacks for a £1 and paperbacks for 50p, with all money going to The Big Issue Foundation.
A great venue hosting an interesting evening of live fiction was right up my street. Showcasing the talent of different Birmingham authors who read extracts of their novels, or short stories featuring horror tropes in time for Halloween, the magic of storytelling was resparked for me. I spend so much time reading to myself and making my own impressions and judgements of characters that it has been easy to forget how wonderful it is to hear a story the way the author intends for it to be narrated. From on point Black Country accents and murders in Richard Bruce Clay’s narration of Kingswinford Sunset, to the dramatic telling of one man’s gory struggle with his mobile phone by David Wake, it was wonderful to switch off after work and lose myself to fictional horrors created by local authors. Other stories of murderous clowns from Simon Fairbanks and ghostly (or ghastly) bankers from A.A.Abbott really brought the Halloween theme to to the forefront.
My favourite reading came from an author who set the tone for the whole night with lights dimmed, a torch for effect and beautiful props including a blue velvet coat and a blue crystal necklace. Pat Spence presented her Young Adult novel Blue Moon first, taken from Book One of The Blue Crystal Trilogy. Encompassing a romantic plot with supernatural twists, the extract examines what happens when Emily sneaks into an exclusive and elite party hosted by her love interest, Theo. Wearing a blue crystal necklace that has youth giving properties, she runs into blue cloaked supernatural beings who she feels compelled to follow, potentially changing her fate. Pat Spence presented a really tantalising extract, softly spoken so much so that her narration was haunting. More importantly, this author offered the right amount of storytelling to the audience with a compelling extract, leaving the story lingering on an edge that makes one desperate to find out what happens next.
All Hallows Read is the first literature event I’ve attended that hasn’t been hosted by companies such as Waterstones. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening that exhibited some excellent talent hidden in our city and I look forward to attending similar events created by The Culture Hour.