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For the last two weeks I have been mostly…

August 31, 2011 3 comments

…hanging about the Edinburgh Book Festival.  It was the best book festival ever for me, for a number of reasons.  I went to some fabulous sessions with inspiring and intelligent authors – and my own book, The Wishcatchers, was on sale in the bookshop!  It was quite fun to check the shelves and see how the stock was changing day to day.  I’ve no idea how many were actually sold, but I know there were definitely less on the last day than at the beginning.  Despite lurking, though, I never actually caught someone in the act of buying.

The events I’ve been to have made me do a lot of thinking, largely about writing and my head is whirling with ideas and questions.  It has been a hugely stimulating experience all round.

I’ve already said how much I enjoyed the Elen Caldecott session, but here are some more of my highlights.  Liz Kessler’s session, to quote Liz herself, was ” a bit bonkers”.  I found a friend and myself reassuring her in the signing queue that bonkers was good!  She had a great box of tricks, stuffed with items to stimulate anecdotes and advice.  I loved the poems by her eight year old self and her list of things which make you a writer – the statutory addictions to tea and chocolate made me sure that I fit the bill.  My daughter was very taken with the school reports which were full of comments about the teenage Liz not paying attention and being disruptive.  (I hope this hasn’t given her any ideas.)

Lari Don was brilliant as ever, engaging the audience in a masterful storytelling session and then making them think up their own goodies and baddies.  I wonder if she’ll steal any of the quite wonderful ideas for one of her books…  She even managed to make us all feel knowledgeable as we collectively had an impressive recall of myths and legends.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who left the session inspired to write my own adventure featuring goodies and baddies.

I could have listened to David Almond forever.  His love for and constant astonishment at the world around us was infectious.  And it was fascinating to hear him talking again and again about “finding” – at various points he mentioned finding characters, finding language, finding images, finding stories – as if all we have to do is look.  And perhaps it is.  Although to produce books as beautiful as his, the “finding” stage has to be followed by a lot of careful crafting.

I feel quite sad and even a little bereft now that the Book Festival is over.  I’m so lucky to have it on my doorstep and be able to pop in and out on an almost daily basis.  Now, I need to get my feet back on the ground (or rather my posterior in my chair) and get writing again.

That’s the way to do it!

I went with my daughter to see Elen Caldecott at the Book Festival last night and wow were we impressed!  It was the best children’s book event I’ve ever been to.  Like many authors, Elen talked about how she goes about writing a book – but the difference was that she made it so interactive and inspiring.  Getting several suggestions from the audience and then having a vote, she managed (using just 9 words, Emily counted them!) to get a story outline.  Then she guided us through a visualisation of one of the settings and asked us specific questions to get us to imagine it fully, including all the senses.  The way it was done was brilliant, keeping everyone’s attention and making everyone feel involved.  And did I mention how funny she was?  All in all a hugely informative and entertaining experience.

It was an astonishingly small audience – people obviously don’t know what a treat they missed!  But the good thing was that everybody got a chance to contribute and everyone did.

We happened to be sitting next to Julia Donaldson, Children’s Laureate, and she told the organisers how impressed she was too.  So, fans of well-written and entertaining children’s fiction, I recommend you go out and buy one of Elen’s books.  The latest is Operation Eiffel Tower.  And if you ever get a chance to hear her speak, grab it with both hands.

Edinburgh Book Festival Appearance!

Well, no, not me personally.  I have yet to reach the heady heights of appearing in an Edinburgh Book Festival Event (though I have attended a good few in an audience member capacity over the years…).  But The Wishcatchers is there in all its glory.  And multiple copies too, in a prominent position facing the door.  I am very tempted to set up camp in the children’s bookshop to see if I can spot someone actually purchasing a copy!  I’ve never actually caught someone in the act of buying a copy in a shop yet.

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