My passion for literature in the Rhondda Valley by Colin R Parsons

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Meet Colin R. Parsons. Your next favourite author.

Colin is the creator of nine young adult and a middle-grade novel, and his catalogue just continues to grow. His most recent release, D. I. S. C, is a science-fiction adventure with a very poignant message, which sets the tone for much of his fantastical writing.

Colin shares with us memories from when he was his protagonist’s age, and how the place he lives has continued to shape both his love for reading and his craft of writing.

I’ve lived in the South Wales valley’s all of my life. And it’s no secret that I love reading as much as writing, especially children’s and teen novels. When I was a kid, books, were in plentiful supply. You could go to the many libraries throughout the Rhondda Valley, and there were many book shops scattered around.

Things have changed a lot over the years, mostly due to technology, and the Internet. Paperbacks were slowly being replaced by digital books, and that format ruled for quite while. Bookshops have dwindled, and so too have libraries – through cutbacks. This has all led to the decline of physical books being displayed in shop windows, for the public to sample. In fact, there aren’t many places that can actually stock them anymore. There are the small book sections in supermarkets, allocated for novels, but that’s about it.

Since becoming an author, I’ve wanted to reintroduce books, back into the Rhondda, somehow. Because it’s not only children that are missing out but adults too. It was getting to the point where books were looking as if they were ‘dead and gone’ – and that scared me.

So, being a small author (not published by the biggies, such as Harper Collins or Penguin) how could I do anything to change all this? In the early years, I tried to get interest in some kind of event, where everyone could once again be involved with books. Not only the actual physical effect of seeing, touching, smelling and reading a novel (because it is a real tactile experience) but also meeting the creator’s that actually write them. Someone has to write them, and the public need to see who they are.

Nobody would take me seriously in the beginning. I was self-published for a start, and that was a huge stigma, not so much today (even traditionally published authors self-publish these days).

So how could I get myself known? It was a mammoth task and took years of immersing myself in the literary world. I wrote-wrote-wrote, and my back catalogue grew bigger and bigger. I had to build my author profile too, where my books and myself would become recognised. I began meeting and befriending other authors. I engaged the reading public in book signings up and down the UK. Over the course of ten years: I had managed to do six hundred book-signing events, at a hundred bookshops in the UK. These shops ranged from independent bookshops to major established chains, such as Borders and Waterstones. By now, my books were getting the recognition they deserved, and I was selling thousands of copies. By the time I’d done all that, I had commanded quite a bit or respect in the industry. This enabled me to get something going.

In twenty-fifteen, I managed, to secure a venue in the SOAR Chapel Community Centre in Penygraig, in the Rhondda. I’d also managed to acquire ‘Catrin Collier’ a well known welsh author (and also, my mentor) to do an author talk.

I’D DONE IT! I’d actually brought a book fair to the Rhondda. It was humble beginnings and I had help, but it needed a lot more organising. So, I went solo when the second one arrived a year later, and I’d completely revamped it, and I called it the ‘Rhondda Book Fair 2016’.

The weather was atrocious – heavy rains and mist, but the people still came.

Three hundred readers turned up on the day. I had accumulated twenty-five authors of many different genres… and with the help of my lovely wife, Jan (she organised tea, coffee and cake) to make sure the event was a success. It was amazing to see young families, middle-aged readers, and the older generation – chatting to authors. Buying signed copies of their books. Sitting drinking tea and coffee, whilst actually… reading!

This year the book fair will be into its third year and going from strength-to-strength. I’m hopefully going to be running it for the foreseeable future. Maybe one day the Rhondda Book Fair will become the one everyone wants to visit?

by Colin Parsons

You can connect with Colin Parsons on Facebook and Twitter and find out more on his website and blog.

Colin Parsons’ books are available here.

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