Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a literary festival? Well, as a founding member of Focal, I reckon I’m the perfect person to give the inside scoop!
First and foremost, we’re quite young, with two festivals under our belts. So, as my dad is want to say, every day is a school day. Each event we’ve hosted we learn something new, take that away and make sure we do better the next time round.
We had a meeting last Saturday and we had so much to discuss. Focal started out as a literary festival, held once a year, but it’s evolved over the past forty-eight months. We now host a number of events throughout the year, but this means of course that our workload has quadrupled!
At our recent meeting, the agenda ran into two pages. We meet in the meeting room of Enniscorthy’s Library, with coffee and scones centre table. Look we’re Irish, we can’t go more than half an hour without a cuppa!
Maria Nolan is our secretary and she tries to keep us on track, with an agenda. But despite all of our best intentions, our meetings always at least two hours!
First of all, we look at recent events and ask ourselves some questions – what worked, what we could do better, should we do again.
Here’s some news for you, hot off the press. On Saturday we made a decision to make our Focal Has Talent Open Mic nights, a regular event, run bi-monthly. These nights, are perfect way for Focal to give a platform to aspiring writers and artists. Our next event will be on 4th December and we’ll be back with full news on that soon!
The subject of money always takes up a large chunk of our meeting. As a not-for-profit festival, we are always in need of funds. We are mindful of the fact, that most writers and artists are not earning millions – yet! So we try to keep our fees low, which means we have to be creative in ways to keep our costs down. It has been known, that committee members themselves dip into their own pockets to pay for events. For e.g. at our recent Thank Focal For Coffee fundraiser for The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, a number of the committee donated gifts for the raffle.
We also brainstormed ways to increase awareness about our charity anthology From Wexford With Love. We hope readers will consider buying this as a stocking filler for family and friends this Christmas. At only €10.00 it really is a beautiful gift for anyone with a love for travel, especially those with a Wexford connection. And do check out our Facebook page for details on our Around The World in 80 days Competition. There’s opportunities to win lots of beautiful artisan products from Wexford businesses.
We have a number of exciting events coming up – that I can’t tell you about yet! But what I can tell you, is that on 28th October, at the Brooklyn premiere in Enniscorthy, an announcement will be made.
Lastly, we had a look at book launches that are coming up, discussing how we can support by attending. We also host a number of launches for local writers too. We have two coming up. The first for Cathy Keane, who has compiled a stunning photo book of images she captured during the filming of Brooklyn in Enniscorthy. Details of her book launch will be advised shortly. It promises to be a fun, 50’s inspired launch. Focal are also co-hosting the paperback launch of my novel Every Time A Bell Rings, again, I’ll be sharing details of that shortly, but it promises to be magical.
There’s lots of laughter in our meetings too, its not all work. And the fact that we are so diverse means that we have different perspectives to contribute to the meeting. And thank goodness for that.
Our committee members are
Jarlath Glynn, Chairman, Maria Nolan, Secretary, Richie Cotter, Treasurer, Roger Harrington, PRO, Carmel Harrington, Caroline Busher, Anne Gilpin, Brian Byrne, Cat Hogan, Paul O’Reilly & Cathy Keane.
From a personal perspective, I am so happy that on a wet rainy night in Enniscorthy Library, Maria Nolan came to hear me speak about my first novel. We chatted, we clicked and before the end of the night, she had talked me into joining Focal. And it has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’ve made wonderful friendships and as a result of my role in Focal, have met many interesting and talented artists. I can’t wait to see where the next 12 months brings us.
About Carmel Harrington
Carmel is published by the prestigious HarperCollins publishing house, represented by Trace Literary Agency. Her first two novels – Beyond Grace’s Rainbow & The Life You Left were bestsellers and she has won several international awards, including Romantic eBook of 2013 and Kindle Book of Year 2013. Her third novel, ‘Every Time A Bell Rings’, inspired by the beloved Christmas movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, published in eBook format 15th October 2015 then in paperback 19th November 2015. Carmel writes emotional family dramas and they share one common theme – strong characters who find themselves in extraordinary situations. She loves to dig deep and see how they cope, as they grapple with life-changing moments.
Carmel is one of the panelists on TV3’s Midday Show and a regular on both national and local radio stations. A popular freelance writer, she has written features for The Irish Independent, The Daily Mail, The Evening Herald & Woman’s Way and USA’s acclaimed online blog, Mothering In The Middle. Carmel is also a motivational keynote speaker and has given talks at events in Ireland, UK and US.
Living with her husband Roger and young children Amelia and Nate in a small coastal village in Wexford, she credits the idyllic setting as a constant source of inspiration. Follow Carmel on Twitter @HappyMrsH, or become friends with Carmel on Facebook/happymrsh. For more information on Carmel’s books see www.carmelharrington.com