Festival Fun and Frolics

In my head, it went like this: train, hotel check-in, meet Karen Saunders, meet Julia Eccleshare, PANIC, event, de-panic, eat, sleep, PANIC, event, de-panic, PANIC, event, de-panic, see a bit of the Festival, train, home. And then it felt like it didn’t happen at all. But I’ve got some wonderful memories and a few groovy photos and some witnesses to remind me that it did happen and I loved it. Even the panicky bits.

Just arrived and already panicky.

Just arrived and already panicky.

But let’s rewind to Karen Saunders. If you haven’t read her book, ‘Me, Suzy P’, then do – because Karen Saunders is cool. Anyone who can panic as much as I do about an event is cool in my book.


The Author’s Yurt – Top Secret Tent!

We met in the Authors’ Yurt and even though I wasn’t supposed to take pictures, I did – but only when there wasn’t anyone around, so you’ll have to imagine two pale, shaky authors meeting for the first time in these surroundings:

As I said, Karen is cool. She’s funny and down to earth and easy to talk to and despite our fear of public speaking, we just clicked. And then Julia Eccleshare turned up.

For those of you who don’t know, Julia is the doyenne of the Guardian’s book review bunch. No matter how high you think the metaphorical buck has to climb before it stops, the summit is Julia Eccleshare. She’s the Guv’nor, the Boss, the Gaffer. She’s also one of the most reassuring, articulate and protective people I’ve ever met. If you’re doing an event, have her chairing; you won’t regret it.

So, the event kicked off. To diffuse my nerves, I did some bounding about and got into the audience. On Julia’s nod, I did something like a reading, with a lovely Art Student called @AbzRon, who dug me out of a hole like a seasoned pro.

My Festival Hero, Abbie!

My Festival Hero, Abbie!

Then it was Karen’s turn. For someone who claimed to be mortally nervous, she didn’t show any signs; told stories (seated) and did a reading (seated). It was like watching Kirk run the Enterprise from the comfy Captain’s Chair: no fluff, no worries – just seamless.

And all the while, Julia Eccleshare egged us on to the point where I forgot my nerves and we were engaged in conversation between ourselves and the audience and all was well in the Baille Gifford Imagination Lab. I can’t thank Julia and Karen enough for being so…well…cool.


Julia and Karen being cool. Me rigid with fear.

During that day, I also bumped into @sisterspooky off of Twitter-land. If you’ve never encountered her, I suggest you do. Laura (her real name) might be Blogging Royalty, but she’s very funny and so passionate about books it puts most authors to shame. She’s also possessed of a Sid James Laugh and if you have to pay her to be in your audience, it’s money well spent. Fiver’s in the post, Laura! No- honest.

That night was a bit fretful, because I knew I had two events the next day and you can never guarantee that any gig will go as well as the one you’ve just done. So, after a little scran (liver and onions), my journey to the Land of Nod was disembarking.


Another riveted audience.

The next day started with meeting the Sound Department, to be fitted-up with my mic and my chairperson, Hannah. I think there were four schools present at the gig – once again at the Imagination Lab – and they were brilliant; really up for a laugh. It did feel funny without Karen and Julia, but we soon hit our stride and there were some superb Geek Confessions going on. If you were there and you’re reading this – you guys were fantastic! And a special mention must go to That Teacher. You know who you are and you were brilliant.

Then it was Signing Time, followed by a quick lunch before softly-spoken Mike the Librarian picked me up for a trip to Broughton School. But before I got to the school, I bumped into Liz Bankes! Liz was the first blogger to come to my boat and  interview me about Geekhood: CEotGK. And now, here she was all reborn and glowy, as an author with not one, but two books out! Liz is one of those people who just radiates loveliness. I haven’t read her books yet, but they’re on the list – apparently they’ve got a bit of ‘steam’ to them, so I’ll have to read them over a morning cuppa. Getting old and all that. But they’ve been all critically-acclaimed and everything – so do check them out. But, on with the ramble. Where were we? Ah yes – Broughton School.

Sometimes doing an event throws you in at the deep-end – and this was one of them. I was being thrown into an arena where the students had just arrived at the school, didn’t know each other and didn’t know the staff. If ever there was a time to panic, it was now,

Panic. Before they come in and smell your fear.

Panic. Before they come in and smell your fear.


Or so I thought. Broughton School ended up providing me with one of the most attentive audiences I think I’ve ever had. Which just goes to prove that old book and cover adage. If you were there, then my utmost thanks for being good eggs.

And then, I was Officially Done. With an evening to spare, I took a gander up the main drag of the Festival, but didn’t see anything; after an event I do that thing of trying to replay the whole thing and see what worked and what didn’t. It’s like when you’ve had an argument and you’re trying to see if you missed an opportunity for a killer line. But, thanks to everyone involved in each event, there wasn’t any need: I’d met cool people, hung out with cool people, worked with cool people and talked with cool people.

HUGE thanks to Karen and Julia for putting up with my hyperactivity and to the Edinburgh Book Festival for getting me along. The Festival is a very special event and if you haven’t been yet – stick it on your calendar for next year.

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3 thoughts on “Festival Fun and Frolics

  1. Awww, only just saw what you wrote about visiitng us at Broughton High – thanks very much, that’s lovely praise and the S1 pupils will be very chuffed to hear it 🙂

  2. Thanks, Laura – it was nice to have a friendly face in the crowd!

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