Marta and I are in the hotel lobby, waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the festival venue. A young-looking woman sits down next to us, dressed in a black-and-white polka dotted sundress, Roman centurion sandals, and a smart leather hat over long dreadlocks.
“Are you writers, too? she asks.
Marta nods. “I'm Marta, from Havana."
“I’m Linda, from Montreal.”
“Lydia Lagat, from Nairobi.” She smiles beautifully and hands us her card: Lydia Lagat, Writer, and an address in Helsinki.
“You live in Finland?” Lydia’s English is that of a Kenyan woman who has spoken English from early childhood.
“Yes.” She pulls a paperback out of her bag and hands it to us. African Girl, published by Random House. I pass the novel over to Marta, who looks it over and says, “Would you like it to be published in Cuba?”
Publication by Random House promises competence in the writer, perhaps even talent, but Marta has read no more than the back cover. She turns a few of the pages, while I chat with Lydia. Her Finnish husband travels a lot, she has three children aged 7-15 – she does not look old enough to have a child of 15 – and she writes in Finnish and in English, though she prefers to write in English. Along with everything else, she's likable.
“You won’t get paid,” Marta cautions her, reaching over her own card. She works in publishing as well as writing fiction. “So you should be sure you are willing to be published under those conditions. But you will have the Spanish translation.”
“I would just need to speak to my agent.”
“And make sure there is no issue over rights.”
So this is how it happens. If you’re young, or at least young-ish, cool, beautiful, likeable, perhaps even talented, all you have to do is pull out a card and a novel for an offer to publish to fall in your lap. This feels like information I needed some time ago.
Rebecca the poet joins us, long, lean and elegant, her hair in a buzz-cut, her jeans fitting perfectly. Introductions have hardly been made before we all head out to the bus, which has been waiting for us; some miscommunication in the email we all received, what the driver nicely calls “creative writing,” had persuaded us to wait for him in the lobby,
Lydia sits down in front of Rebecca. They chat for a bit, and then Rebecca asks her if she would be free to come to the festival that Rebecca is organizing. “It’s very short notice,” she apologizes. ”The festival is at the end of May.”
“I would love to,”
Another minute of two of chat reveals that Rebecca is the editor of LIP magazine. “Maybe I’ll send you a story!” Lydia flashes her beautiful smile.
© Linda Leith 2012
No longer in the festival business, Salon .ll. publisher and editor Linda Leith continues to attend literary festivals.
N.B. Names and other details have been changed.
Website copyright © Linda Leith Publishing Inc 2013; Contents copyright © the creators Login