Tuesday, 29 September 2009

More authors than you can shake a loofah at – Elen Caldecott

I have spent the last week immersed in children’s books, revelling, rolling and rollicking in them. (I may also have spent too long reading alliterative texts...)For those who don’t know, it was the third annual, Bath Festival of Children’s Literature. I volunteered there all week, tearing tickets, keeping the signing queues fed and watered, running to buy red wine for the green room, among many, many other things.
It was both exhilarating and exhausting. Exhilarating to spend time around people who love the same thing as I do. Exhausting because there were just so many of them!

Writing, as we know, can be a lonely business. Even with all the friends and contacts we make online, it is easy to feel isolated, a bit odd, even. When I meet new people and tell them I’m a writer, they generally get excited. Then, when they find out I write for children, there’s a confused moment while they try to find the right thing to say (of course, they often fail
).But for one week of the year, in Bath, I fit right in. There are scores of children’s writers around the place. Hundreds of adults who love children’s books. And thousands of children there to hear their favourite authors speak. Heaven.
I wish I had taken pictures to share with you. But I forgot. I am a rubbish journalist. So, I’ll just have to describe my best bits.
There was the Tuesday evening Talking to Teens event. Patrick Ness, Meg Rosoff and Terence Blacker all came along to share their perspectives. I was a bit redundant in the green room, as none of them wanted a muffin, but I did manage to foist a caffeine-free tea on one of their entourage. They were being interviewed on stage by a very capable young reader (I think she was all of 16 years old). She was a treat to meet too.
Terry Deary gave a fantastic multi-media, all-singing (but sadly no dancing) performance on Saturday. His signing queue went on for hours, but the kids at the back were patient. Many just sat down to re-read the books they’d brought with them. The signing queues for Lauren Child, Andy Stanton and Michelle Paver were equally huge, but equally gracious. Well done all of you!

Then, there was the brave and noble volunteer (you know who you are!) who climbed into a giant Horrid Henry costume and let small children ram raid her.
I missed out on seeing the Cybermen, and the Tardis (I was doing admin). I missed Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen (I was working another venue) and I missed Johnny Ball (I was falling asleep on the bus and missing my stop). But I saw so many speakers and they were really inspirational.

Thank you BathKidsLitFest and I’ll see you again next year!

Ps. For those of you like news updates. Here’s a photo of my new writing room

Elen's Facebook Page


Katherine Langrish said...

It was great to meet you there, Elen - and hear your comments on my Roman coins!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Your writing room looks wonderful Elen... a bit tidy still!!! And no sign of a fold-down bed for guests!