Saturday, 13 August 2011

Of Yurts and Spiegeltents: Book Festival-ing in Edinburgh - Linda Strachan

Where can you find a Yurt and a Spiegeltent, comedy, politics, cuddly creatures, crime and all kinds of great writing?
Well, if you are in Edinburgh in the next two weeks or so there is one place you should not miss.
By the time you read this the 28th Edinburgh International Book Festival will have kicked off.  Billed as the 'largest and most dynamic festival of its kind in the world'
 Now that is a huge claim to fame but for those of us who live in the vicinity - and the some 220,000 visitors it attracts- it is easy to see why.
Edinburgh at festival time is a completely different place than it is during rest of the year. It feels looks and even smells different!

Playing host to the The Book festival, the International Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, the Jazz Festival and several other festivals all at the same time, the city is converted into one huge venue, where even the streets become the stage and performers attract audiences in the most unlikely places.

In all this exciting cultural mayhem the Book festival is an oasis of calm.  You enter Charlotte Square (which for the rest of the year is a leafy private garden) and immediately the bustle of the city is converted into an excited hush, a tranquil setting resounding with gentle roars when the audience in one of the tents begins to applaud.

Of course the Edinburgh weather can affect the Book festival as much as anywhere else and there have been a few years when the rain left delightful little ponds around the square- delightful for the little yellow plastic ducks that suddenly appeared! Their equally sudden disappearance gave rise to discussions about the possibility of a plastic crocodile..... ?

But each year they have added more solid walkways, then covered walkways to and from the event tents and the bookshop tents and finally even to the author's green room - the yurt.

There was one particular year when there was much comedy to be had watching the staff wielding large umbrellas to shelter celebrity authors in the dash across what seemed to be the only uncovered walkway- the first 2 metres as they stepped out of the yurt on their way to their events.  Thankfully that was sorted the following year.

But when the sun shines the grassy centre of the book festival fills with people. They sit about chatting and reading in the sunshine, eating ice cream and sipping coffee. People of all ages, families with tinies and octogenarians, and from all walks of life, they have one thing in common, they love books and discussion.

creating the Spiegeltent

In the signing tent or walking around the book festival you might spot a first time author or a megastar, a politician or an actor. The Book festival also has a Spiegeltent where in the evening Unbound is free and brimming with music and performances.

As you can see I am a huge fan and look forward to the last two weeks of August each year.

It is a chance to spend time listening to wide variety of fascinating authors, to meet up with old friends and new and to discover books and authors I might never have found otherwise.

Preparing to chair an event with Nicola Morgan

The Authors' Yurt is a particular delight.

The 'green room' for authors appearing at the festival, it is a lovely space and even has a separate area for quiet preparation before an event.

Hamish McHaggis  & friends

Hamish McHaggis decided to pay a visit to the yurt a couple of years ago and the staff were keen to pose with him!  I am not sure if Hamish is going to make an appearance during my event this year - it will depend if he has recovered from his recent trip to the USA!

I will be spending quite a bit of time at the book festival again this year and aside from my own events I hope to catch up with quite a few SAS authors and ABBA contributors who are appearing there this year, such as,  Celia Rees, Liz Kessler, Nicola Morgan, Gillian Philip, Cathy MacPhail and many more.

Here are details of my events below and in the comments perhaps those of you who are also appearing in Edinburgh will add your names and the details of your events, too.

If you are coming to Edinburgh don't miss the Book Festival or put it in your diary for next year!

Linda Strachan is appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival on-

On Thursday 18th August 2011 - 5.30pm 
Amnesty International Imprisoned writers series
On Friday 19th August 2011 - 5.00pm For teens and Adults -
Exploring the research involved in writing her teen novels Spider and Dead Boy Talking 
On 25th August 2011 
- writing workshop (THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT)
On Schools Gala Day  - 30th August 2011
 Hamish McHaggis and friends



Penny Dolan said...

Sounds wonderful! Am highly vexed that I can't make Edinburgh after all this year.

michelle lovric said...

Having a lovely chat with you there and meeting a couple of other Sassies was my best memory of Edinburgh last year. Good luck with your events!

Nicola Morgan said...

And... the sun is SHINING! x

Elen C said...

Anyone there on Weds 17th?
My event is as 5pm and would be lovely to meet anyone who'll be around.

Emma Barnes said...

I'll hopefully see you there...will nmanage to sneak my way into the yurt even though I'm not doing an event!

Linda Strachan said...

I'll be there on 17th Elen, see you in the Yurt and hope to catch up with you, too, Emma!

Looking forward to you chairing Meg Roscoff today, Nicola.

Michelle and Penny, hope to see you both there next year?

adele said...

Will be thinking of you, Linda! Can still vividly remember the fun we had in 2009....ah, those were the days! That nice meal in the pizza place with you and Vanessa etc was a highlight. Have fun! And give regards to the Crabbit One and any Sassies you encounter.

Mavis said...

It all sounds brilliant! So sorry I can't be there.

Joan Lennon said...

I'm doing an Amnesty reading on 22nd Aug. and two Slightly Jones events in the Schools Programme on 23rd Aug. - one as part of the Outreach programme and one in Charlotte Square.
Hope to meet many of you there!

Linda Strachan said...

See you there. Joan.

It was fun, Adele! Caught up with Crabbit today and the Meg Rosoff event yesterday was great.

Hi Mavis!

Celia Rees said...

I'm going to be there on Sunday, 21st with Crabbit and am doing a reading at 10am (all welcome) as well as a school event on 22nd. Hope to see you and any other ABBA/Sassies in and around the yurt.