We knew it was going to be good.
We had five, incredible debut authors on the bill, a sold-out audience and a bar merely metres away but even we could not have predicted what a stellar night was in store at The Riff Raff's first monthly meet up.
The Effra Social is one of our favourite venues in Brixton and the Churchill Suite is utterly charming: cosy but not a squeeze, quirky and yeah, still a bit cool. It has The Riff Raff written all over it.
Paul M. M. Cooper kicked off proceedings with an extract from his novel River of Ink. Historical, mythical, lyrical and abundant with vibrant imagery, he had the audience spell bound.
Fran Cooper was next to read from These Dividing Walls, her richly drawn ensemble novel set in the heart of Paris. Fran transported us to a forgotten corner of the French capital, to Number thirty-seven, where we got to peek into the lives of its fascinating inhabitants.
Third on the bill was our very own Amy Baker, who's extract from Miss-adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking Around South America had our lovely audience hooting with laughter. Special mention goes to Paul Baker – Amy's dad – for hearing things no father should have to discover about his daughter, and still making jokes.
Once the applause died down for Amy it was time to enjoy a well-earned beverage.
What can we say about our audience? Book lovers one and all, we had aspiring novelists, publishing professionals, bloggers and fellow writers amidst the crowd. Thoughtful questions for our authors came thick and fast and covered everything from characterisation and inspiration to passion and process. It's fair to say we all came away having learnt a thing or two.
Suitably lubricated after the break, we returned to our seats (and sofas) for our penultimate author Helen McClory. Helen's book, Flesh of the Peach, covers themes of loss, love and travel and her stories about recreating her heroine's journey across America, by bus, were hilarious and hair-raising in turn.
It was left to the inspirational Vanessa Potter to bring us home. Patient H69: The Story of My Second Sight is Vanessa's memoir about becoming blind and paralysed. The very fact she was with us, reading her book to an audience of 50, was testament to her strength and determination. Needless to say, we could have listened to her talk all night.
A HUGE thank you to all our authors and everyone who came along to make The Riff Raff's very first event such a magical and memorable occasion.
Special thanks also goes to the very talented Alice Lubbock for taking such beautiful photographs – what a true champ! If you love her work as much as we do, check out her website here or find her on Twitter and Instagram at @alice_lub.
WANT TO DO IT ALL AGAIN?!
Yeah you do! Our next event is taking place on Wednesday 7th June from 7-9pm at Effra Social so that you lovely lot can all vote on Thursday.
We already have some amazing authors confirmed, including Nell Stevens, author of Bleaker House: Chasing my Novel to the End of the World, and Clare Fisher, the talent behind All the Good Things. And that is just for starters...follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for some VERY exciting announcements ahead.
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Can't wait to see you there Riff Raffers!
All images © Alice Lubbock