'Location, location, location' is a saying close to the hearts of estate agents, property dealers, property appraisers, surveyors, mortgage underwriters and the like. It also applies to organisations with something to promote at a literary festival. Canongate and Highland Park Whisky could not have found a better location for their marquee at Cheltenham's Literary Festival. It was on prime walkway between the back entrance of the town hall and the rest of the tents, including the bookshop. At times of heavy pedestrian traffic, the boys and girls were outside the tent offering a sample of their whisky and inviting you to join the latest Canongate author-in-attendance for their 15 minute sample read. And so it came to pass that I became aware of author Trevor Byrne and also tasted my first Highland Park.
I hadn't tasted whisky for years and ventured into that first sip with some trepidation; it was rather nice and then a second flavour kicked in. Peat. Yes, Highland Park is a single malt of the peaty variety. Not really for me, even after I confirmed my initial thoughts through another three free samples.
Waiting for the arrival of the author I found some blurb on him; I forget where exactly. Trevor Byrne is currently a tutor in creative writing at Glamorgan University. (Welsh connection. Good. Definitely up for a blog post.) Ghosts and Lightning is his first novel. (Debut author. Doubly up for a blog post.) It's the tale of someone trying to do the right thing surrounded by the wrong choices and a review said 'Revealing chronicle of our times from an exceptional new Irish talent.' (Sounds interesting.)
And then came Trevor Byrne. Before reading he gave a warning. He explained that his novel Ghosts and Lightning is about 80k words long and that about 1 in 8 of them are that four letter word beginning with 'f' or derivatives thereof. The two passages he chose to read had a higher proportion than average for the novel. And then he read. No one left. More people joined.
Job well done, I think.