Friday, 3 September 2010

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

I'm not used to having a minder. It's rather nice, and luckily Orion has a pretty high class sort of author wrangler in Kate and Nina. Nina was having a well-deserved Bank Holiday off--her first in 7 years which shows an unprecedented devotion to duty--so Kate drew the short straw of wrangling me.  The poor girl had her work cut out because the hideous edbookfest lurgie had struck me down, and by the Tuesday morning my voice sounded a bit like a baby dragon fart--all squeaky and raspy.  Luckily I wasn't breathing fire, so she had that to be thankful for. However, The Show Must Go On, and so, dosed with hideous concoctions and breathing Fisherman's Friend fumes, I was miked up to the hilt and strode into the Scottish Power Studio Theatre in Charlotte Square.  Well, I say strode, but I don't know if one can stride on legs which feel like jellybeans. 

I feel that this is the point at which I should mention Author Nerves. There we are, writing away in our little garrets or (add ivory tower location of choice here). The email pings, and in comes a lovely invitation from a school or library or, in this case, festival.  Warm feeling of being wanted ensues, and one agrees to do it in a burst of love for all humankind (it takes very little to make an author happy--chocolate is one of them, being treated as a real author is another).  Then, just before the event, panic ensues.  At least it does in my case.  Will I forget what I'm saying and babble?  Will the PowerPoint work (this is a new worry)? Will there be a classroom riot because the kids are bored/hate me/are demons in disguise?  If you took my pulse before an event, I would probably be on the endangered health list.  This time, not only did I have a really big (for me) audience of about 200 kids (yes, my event was SOLD OUT!), but I also had the Russian roulette scenario of whether my next word was even going to be comprehensible.  Also, the clock was broken, so I had NO IDEA how long I had left. 

I got through it.  My voice held out. I even made them laugh--at least twice.  They clapped enthusiastically.  And best of all, they kept on asking good questions till we ran out of time (I made a bad error though--note to self: never give the child who has told you a delightfully long and rambling story about his lego Minotaur the chance to DO IT AGAIN. It's very dark in that theatre, and I am easily confused.) 

After that there was time for a much needed throat-soothing cup of tea and a small pause...

before the 'signing of the books' ritual in the signing tent.  All those who hadn't asked their questions came up and did so.  Very chatty they were too.  I had a photo opportunity with the nice kids from Strathyre in the Trossachs who'd come a long way and very nearly not made it.  And then...then I had tea in the yurt with the Bookwitch and her lovely daughter, Helen.  The Bookwitch writes a pretty fabulous blog, so the next day I was flattered to feature in it along with my lucky red coat.  She was even polite about my talk.

As I left Waverly Station on the Train That Was Destined Never to Arrive, I had a thought.  What a bloody marvellous thing the Edinburgh International Book Festival is.  I do hope they invite me again one day.

Part 1 Edinburgh International Book Festival - The Outreach Author is here


bookwitch said...

They will.

Lucy Coats said...

Thank you for your confidence, Bookwitch!

Joan Lennon said...

I got that lurgie too, Lucy - horrible! But I was a day luckier than you and didn't start being revolting until just after I got home. You're right - in spite of the opportunities for disease, doing events at the Edinburgh Festival is a blast!

(I'm practically cured now and hope you are feeling better very soon.)

Jan Markley said...

Congrats on the sold out house. My only experience with handlers is during school visits when they have a couple of children meet you at the door. On one visit it was pajama day and they met me in full housecoat and slippers regalia.'

Talli Roland said...

You look so enthusiastic and confident in those photos! I can't believe you were suffering from nerves, let alone the flu!

Jo Treggiari said...

I love that you let the same kid ask the same question (or was there not a question in the middle of the lego minotaur ramble) twice. You are a love and I'm not surprised you were a big hit!

Lucy Coats said...

Thanks, Joan--yes more human now!
Jan--no pyjamas, thank goodness!
Talli--amazing what sins of the flesh a little makeup will cover!
Jo--there was as considerable interval before the second lego minotaur story! I have it on video, but won't inflict it on you...!

bookwitch said...

It's because lego boy was sitting behind me. Lucy saw me and simply lost the plot for a split second. I should have put my hand up.

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