Waterstones Derby was the setting last night for the launch of the second Derby Book Festival - to be held next June, 3rd to 11th.
The event opened informally with a chance to browse the store, say hello to friends who volunteered last year and to indulge in mince pies and mulled wine (it is almost Christmas after all). The audience was then addressed by Liz Fothergill, chair of the organising committee, who told us how delighted everyone had been with the success of last year's festival and announced some of the highlights of the coming year's.
The festival will be opened with two poetry events; Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate, will appear at the Cathedral, accompanied by her 'favourite court musician' John Sampson, while Derbyshire's Poet Laureate, Helen Mort will be performing her poetry at an event held at Deda.
Other highlights include an event celebrating the bicentennial of Charlotte Bronte's birth with Claire Harman, who has recently published a new biography of the author, and Tracey Chevalier, who has edited and contributed to a new collection of stories, Reader, I Married Him, inspired by Charlotte Bronte's most famous work, Jane Eyre.
As last year, events will take place in a variety of venues across the city, including some new ones. There will be writing workshops, story-telling sessions, a children's book trail and, of course, author appearances. To coincide with the Festival a book of short stories is being collated through the English-as-Second-Language course bringing together tales from Derby's immigrant community, focusing on their journey to the UK, leaving behind family, friends and homes, and the trauma and cultural shocks encountered both on the way and once arrived here.
Something I'm particularly excited about is the event with local novelist Jo Cannon, who was present last night to read an extract from her debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, set in the heatwave of 1976. Her book isn't published till January but you can download a first chapter sampler here.
The evening was closed by a few words from David Williams, representing major sponsor Geldards Law Firm; a humorous and entertaining address in which he stressed why it's important for us, as companies and individuals, to support cultural initiatives in the current economic climate.
2016's Derby Book Festival will be 3-11 June, and the full programme will be announced in April.