Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

Something magical

By Emma on February 8, 2011

All my life, I thought that truly magical things only happened in my stories, or with a certain group of splendid friends that I don’t see enough of any more.

But I was wrong. Something magical is happening where I live, in a small town in Somerset which feels like the poor cousin that everyone tries to forget.

I moved to Shepton Mallet just over three years ago. The decision to move here had nothing to do with the town at all, it had everything to do with being in the grip of severe post-natal depression and needing to be close to family. The little house we lived in 20 minutes out of London was a commuting professional’s house, not a family home. We needed to reduce the mortgage, get away from the traffic and noise and be close to family who wanted to see more of their grandson/grandnephew anyway.

Two years ago, we started a local book club, in the hope of finding new friends, and it has been wonderful – I should blog about it actually. But in terms of the town as a whole, I’ve never really felt part of it. I’m not very good at real world things at the best of times, and most of my time here I’ve been either climbing out of the PND pit or writing in my garret.

Then they threatened to close our local library

The town meeting led to me going to take part in a film being made by a group of local people. I thought it was a couple of enthusiastic chaps with a handheld camcorder. Oh no, it was a professional shoot, with highly trained professionals, one of whom, Garfield Kennedy, has won an Emmy for his documentary film-making. He also happens to be a district Councillor, and he whipped us all up into action, leading to the We Love Libraries campaign, and the wonderful film embedded below.Pop over to the website, as there is a film of extra bits that made me cry.

It led to a local screening last week, at which I met other wonderful people, and discovered that there are people who care about what happens here, who are exciting, creative and energetic. They organised the Love Our Library event for Shepton, which was on Saturday, bringing over 500 people through its door in only one morning!

And it turned out to be my first ever “Meet the author” event!

I don’t have to tell you how nervous I was, you know how much of a ninny I am. But I really enjoyed it once it got going. People came and asked me questions, I told them about From Dark Places and 20 Years Later. I read them the prologue and happily, it was all with a nice cup of tea in hand as it was at one of the local cafes called Chats. Even better, the café has started to run a book club, and the owner is more than happy for me to have a Shepton launch for From Dark Places there – yay!

So, even though it is an awful thing, the threat to our local library has invigorated the community in this town, restored my faith in people and made me proud to live here.

Magic, I tell you.

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{ 7 comments... read them below, or add one }

  1. Tracy Bose says:

    Hi Em,

    That’s really lovely to hear. 500 people is a fantastic figure too.

  2. Em, magic AND goosebumps! Well done, indeed – both for saving the library and for your up-coming launch party.

    And let me welcome you again to the Indie Debut 2011 group. We’re glad you’re here!

  3. lil_monmon says:

    That’s so brilliant. I’m very happy that while you’re doing something for your library, the Library can return the favor. Books freaking rock.

  4. Caroline says:

    What a great film! A number of familiar faces there, too, including William Bloom and Michael Eavis (and you, of course). Loved the closing credits listing you and Michael Eavis in the same list. (Next thing you’ll be telling us that you’re doing a Glastonbury gig!)

    I’m so pleased that what started out as a fight for the survival of your library brought some magic for you.

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. Ami says:

    Oh – love this post. I enjoy reading about magic in your short stories – but something about magic in real life makes me all weepy and emotional (in a good way!) Great clip, well done!

  6. And I really enjoyed meeting you on Saturday and hearing about your creative process.

    I hope you’ll join us in organising other events for Shepton.

    Best,

    Mike

  7. alberta ross says:

    Magic all the way – so nice to have it around still – You help save the books and then . . .but as my old gran used to say wht goes around comes around and maybe just maybe magic happens to people who deserve the magic!

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