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On Saturday a bunch of us piled into the beautiful grotto at the back of Lunartique in St Nick’s Market, Bristol, for the return of “Fairies At The Bottom Of The Market”, accompanied once again by the Sally Army Band playing right above our heads and lending a certain oom-pah-pah to the ambience.

The grotto is a cross between a Moroccan souk and Fairyland, all done up with lights and softened with rugs on the walls. When Helen took over the shop she found the space at the back, and it’s just the right size for a small, intimate reading. Just the place, in fact, for people who have never read to an audience before to try out their stuff…

Which is exactly what Ellen Croshain and Sophie E Tallis did. Despite being teachers back in the real world, they both confessed that they were nervous reading in front of adults for the first time, but you would never have known it from their performance! Ellen read from “Cruelty”, which is due out in February from Kristell Ink and draws heavily on Irish mythology, while Sophie read from her recently-published “White Mountain”, which is full of witches and wizards and dragons and firewolves and fun things like that.

Ellen and Sophie were followed by comic fantasy writer Will McMillan Jones of The Banned Underground fame, who did some stand-up performance poetry and read, without notes, from The Vampire Mechanic. Scott Lewis read a story on the theme of time and solstices which took in just about every myth under the sun, and an extract from “Professor Cornelius J Montague’s Spectacular Spirit Safari”, which can be found in Colinthology (Wizard’s Tower).

I read “Lukewarm in Lynhelm”, a story about dragons and beer that can also be found in Colinthology, and people laughed in all the right places and didn’t fall asleep despite the abundance of free cake being given out.

All in all it was a lovely afternoon and we’re hoping to do it all again soon, with or without the Sally Army band (but preferably without… 😉 )