The Steyning Festival is a two week event with activities ranging from art activities for children, author presentations and community film screenings.

My father, a Master Chef addict was the first in our family to discover one of the judges - John Torode - had been invited to visit the Sussex Produce Company to speak about his new book “Sydney to Seoul". The event includes a signed copy two days before publication and a meal prepared by Sussex Produce chefs for £50.

I was curious to discover how such a small village was able to contact and enlist such an admired figure and chef. I was told this event been organised through the local Steyning bookshop, so I made an appointment to see a lady called Sarah, who ran the shop. I had bought books there all my life and we familiar with each other.

I entered the shop, and reintroduced myself to the ladies at the till. I was led me through the shop which backed onto their own home, something I had never realised. Sitting down with Sarah I asked:

“how are you able to organise this, and how do you discover these opportunities.” There was a minute or two of silence before she began to explain. “As an independent bookshop, we organise author events to keep our business lively. We’re intouch constantly with publishers to ask about authors on tour.”

She stopped for a moment, until I had finished violently scribbling what she had been saying.

“With something special in the pipeline, such as the Steyning Festival, we begin emailing, persuading and making the destination enticing for authors. The shop has been open for thirty-five years and Steyning is an attractive village, we’re experienced enough to make an appropriate fuss of the authors once they’re here.”

I began to enquire more specifically as to how she was able to contact John.

“For the festival we invite a lot of authors, and traditionally we invite a cookery author to go to Sussex Produce for a meal. In the past we’ve had Prue Leith twice, The Hemsley Sisters and Sophie Thompson, previous winner of Masterchef.”

For this festival the shop contacted publishers who would currently be releasing cookery books. Sarah told me she “emailed his publishing company and described the festival, after being informed John agreed he would like to come and advertise his new book.”

I thanked her for all the information she had given me and stepped out of the surreal atmosphere of the house and back into the familiar shop with books covering the walls.