Where can I find a pub or cafe in Belfast city centre that is quiet on a Saturday afternoon? I’ve been on a quest to find one for over a year now. The Irish branch of the Historical Novel Society meets in Belfast twice a year and we’re still searching for a quiet spot to chat. So far we’ve battled a lounge pianist, a jazz band and a folk singer – not to mention insidious background piped music. We haven’t beaten any of them so we’re still searching.
Despite the problems with our venues, I enjoy our meetings. I use the word ‘meetings’ loosely. I think gatherings would be a better word. We rarely have an agenda, and if we do, we probably won’t stick to it. Before we met yesterday we put discussing our favourite novels on our informal agenda but we never got around to that subject. That didn’t matter though as we covered lots of topics of interest to readers and writers of historical fiction – including how to effectively use regional dialects in stories, how to begin editing a novel once the first draft is complete and the range of genres that historical fiction can be set in. We also shared what we’ve been reading or writing. Our discussions didn’t always reach specific conclusions but I came away with lots to think about – I had also added to my to-be-read list by the end of the afternoon.
I always leave the gatherings excited about historical fiction – ready to read and write. That’s a great Saturday afternoon for me. Now I just have to find a quiet Belfast pub before our next meeting. Any venue suggestions welcome!