Somerset Celebration of Literature: A Masterclass in Community

Something like Speculate is never created in a vacuum. It’s a product of many people, and many influences.

One of Speculate’s major influences is the Somerset Celebration of Literature up in the Gold Coast. Every year, without fail, Somerset provides something very special, both to the presenters and to their audience. Over the period of around three days, students, in their thousands are given the chance to hear from voices within the writing industry.

Ian and I had the pleasure to attend Somerset last week, to speak to the students of the journey of the podcast evolving into Speculate, interviewing the other presenters and just taking in the unique experience that is Somerset.

When we said that we wanted to grow the spec-fic community, it wasn’t just a good tag-line. What we saw in Somerset last year and once again this year was that conscious effort to bring authors together. By virtue of the venue and the timing of panels, authors had plenty of time to meet and interact with their audience and chat to one another as well. From the way the festival is structured, there is a very clear love for writing, and that love translates to the attendees.

So you might be wondering how we plan to translate that kind of fostering of community over to Speculate. Ian mentioned in the previous blog, the structure of the day, allowing space for the panellists to chat with the attendees between sessions.

Also during the sessions we’re allowing moderators to have full control of the panels. The structure and flow is entirely up to them. We have some wonderful people involved, and we want them to be able to play with the cadence of the talks. Once more, this is a conversation between panellists and the audience. There are no one-way roads at Speculate.

Somerset is a tremendous inspiration to us, and we want to bring some of that magic to Speculate by learning from the way they foster community and allow honest conversations to flourish. And another way they do that is featuring voices from all kinds of places. One thing you may have noticed from our line up is a combination of various voices that come from such places as YA, poetry, literary fiction and more.  We’re doing this because we believe great conversations come out of difference. The intersection of all of these various audiences coming together in support of one central idea, the love of speculative fiction, will hopefully make Speculate something very special.

We hope to see you there!