Bold Strokes book festival

Stevie Carroll reflects on the 4th Annual Bold Strokes Book Festival, held in Nottingham.

Bold Strokes Books are currently the largest publisher of LGBTQ fiction worldwide, having been founded in 2004 by the author Radclyffe. They are the first LGBTQ publishers to be recognised by the Romance Writers of America (in 2007), and possibly the only one of the biggies with a UK business presence – in the form of editor, Victoria Oldham. I’ve been blogging with a few of their authors on Women and Words ( over the past year or so, and so was very excited to discover that the company organises a yearly reader and author get-together in Nottingham.

The BSB Festival ran over two days and was free (apart from the stack of books I bought), with the Saturday kicking off at the highly civilised hour of 1 pm. BSB authors from the UK, the US, and elsewhere, talked about their current books, their upcoming releases, and various aspects of the writing and publishing process. Although the press is best known for providing quality lesbian fiction, they do publish across the rainbow spectrum and we even had one brave male author there talking about his books (Russ Gregory, whose, Greg Honey, is due out in September). Other authors of note were Andrea Bramhall (Contemporary Lesbian Romance), Rebecca S. Buck (Historical Romance), Amy Dunne (Young Adult Romance), Cari Hunter (Action-adventure Romance), Justine Saracen (heretical lesbian thrillers with historical elements), and I. Beacham (who writes about angsty older women).

Having discussed romance, sex, locations, and ‘writing what you don’t know’ in the form of author panels with readings from their books and frequent audience interruption participation, as well as having frequent breaks for coffee, book-buying and author-fangirling/fanboying, we decamped to the Propaganda Bar for beer, buffet and banter, until it was time for me to go home.

Sunday got off to an earlier start at 11 am (10 am for those brave souls pitching their newly-minted novels to Victoria). We had more of the same, with authors interviewing each other, authors and editors talking about publishing, and authors reading excerpts from their up-and-coming releases. After that, Waterstones finally saw the back of us as we trooped off to The New Foresters Pub for drinks and a free lunch (never let it be said that authors are easily bribed…).

All in all, a highly entertaining weekend, and I’d be meeting up with some attendees in Manchester a month later for the 4th Annual UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet.

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