Thursday, 2 September 2010

Edinburgh International Book Festival: Part 1 - The Outreach Author

I was terribly flattered to be asked, of course.  Which author wouldn't be? I mean the Edinburgh International Book Festival--it's BIG!  They have proper famous people there.  Like Pullman and Rowling and Donaldson (more about her in the next post). So, yes please (I'm polite like that) and yippee! I said.  That was last year. It seemed a long way off then.  Safe, even.  But when it got to last Sunday, and I found myself on a packed and joggly train pulling out of Kings Cross Station (not, sadly from Platform 9 3/4), I started to feel a bit nervous.  The stomach butterflies weren't helped by the family of messy tuna eaters, either.  But I shall cut at once to the authors' yurt--all domed canvas roofs and exotic carpets, where I fitted in right away with my lucky red coat.
The yurt has been much written about, so I shall say no more than that I met (finally) the ineffably Crabbit Nicola Morgan and the wolfy Gillian Philip there, as well as lovely Danuta Kean, who has a razor-sharp wit and a talent for knowing all the good gossip.  Wolfy Gillian was keen to show me that authors have their own exclusive yurty toilets (very deluxe).  She also persuaded me to be photographed with her.
There was much wine, and I shall draw a veil over the rest of the evening and proceed straight to the next morning, which was when I had to do my first event.

Outreach is a fantastic scheme, taking Festival authors out to local schools (which might otherwise miss out). As an official EIBF author, you get given the chance to opt in or out.  I opted in (always up for anything that helps to get books to kids).  Which is how I found myself speeding along country roads in a taxi.  My destination was Kirkliston Library, and the P5 class of Kirkliston Primary.  Author nerves were at their most tightly wound...would the PowerPoint work? (It did, thanks to the fab Colm Linnane, Reading Champion of the Edinburgh City Library & Information Service.)  These kids were brighter than shiny buttons--and they were well prepared for a foray into the ancient world (not always the case).  There wasn't much wriggling, and the questions were focused and intelligent.  They'd even emailed me beforehand (though there was a slight mix-up in the spelling of the word book, involving a misplaced 'b', which made me wonder for a second whether I'd been spammed!).

I think they liked it--anyway, they certainly all wanted to be put in my next book, with one boy volunteering to be the monster (his peers seemed to agree that he'd be perfect for the part).  One down, one to go...but then the dreaded lurgie stepped in and bit me....come back tomorrow to find out whether I survived!

Part 2: Edinburgh International Book Festival - The Author is Wrangled is here

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