Thursday, 16 August 2012

It's August, it's Edinburgh, It's the bookfest!

Despite the almost continuous rain earlier in the summer last Saturday when the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2012 opened its doors  the sun shone and it was glorious.  People were sitting all around the lovely square in Charlotte Gardens chatting reading books,eating ice cream, enjoying the atmosphere and people watching - trying to spot their favourite author.

On the walkways there was a buzz as people rushed to join the queue for an event or strolled by to browse in the bookshops or cafes.

It is my favourite time of the year.  A chance to catch up with lots of friends, writers from all parts of the country, to meet new people and to go to listen, laugh and be fascinated by the skill and imagination of the speakers.

In the famous authors' yurt, (green room) the great and the good,  famous, not so famous and the first time authors gather before or after events. As the festival lasts for over two weeks and has something like 800 authors from all over the world, there are always new people to meet.  This year sees the festival holding the 2012-2013 Edinburgh World Writers Conference, with special events looking at the role of literature around the world today.

On Saturday I caught up with other authors many of them SASsies - Nicola Morgan, Cathy MacPhail, Eleanor Updale, Elizabeth Laird, Julia Donaldson and Moira Munro, Keith Charters and crime writer Alex Gray.  it is a place for families and  I also met the Bookwitch and her daughter, and Mary and Gerry (the Mole) from Ourbookreviews and their lovely daughter.

I went into listen to the brothers Scarrow, Simon and Alex, both highly successful authors who decided that they might share some characters!  So Alex was able to bring two of his brother's well loved Roman characters into his own book set in Rome.
The event was great fun with teams of three chosen from the young audience brought up to compete in a history quiz.  Lots of fun and cheering ensued.

Monday the sun was still shining and I met up with Barry Hutchison and I went into the event on his new book the 13th Horseman, which made me realise just how much fun you can have with your characters!

 Barry, along with Sally Gardner and Steven Butler were understandably nervous about an event called Story Consequences.  Vivian French was the excellent chair person (and had control of the bell!) in an event where the three other writers were invited to start a story (character, place and emotion suggested by the audience) and keep it going for 30 seconds until the bell rang signalling that they had to pass it on to the next person, and so on.
Despite their reservations it was a riotous success and by the end of the event three very different, if slightly strange, stories had come to life.  The audience got behind the authors cheering them on, and everyone had a great time.
It occurred to me that this might be an interesting challenge to try in the future, for writers, aspiring writers and in creative writing sessions with young people, too.

Story Consequences event

This week also saw the Society of Authors in Scotland (SOAiS) AGM and lunch when we welcomed some new committee members Cathy MacPhail, Gillian Philip and Michael Malone and our new Scottish (SOAiS) chair  Lin Anderson.  It was also a pleasure get the chance to chat to the new Chair of the Society of Authors who had travelled up from London - Lindsey Davis.

I had a lovely surprise when dropping in to the yurt to find Keren David there, who introduced me to Amy Plum, a YA author who is American  living in Paris and will be speaking at the book festival  next week.

I will be appearing in the book festival this Sunday when I will be reading as part of the Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series on Freedom of Speech when  I read  Nasrin Sotoudeh.'s poignant letter to her daughter. 

On Friday 24th I am looking forward to delivering my workshop 'So you want to write for Children?'.

On the following Tuesday, after the main bookfest closes there is the School Gala Day when Charlotte Square is closed to the general public and bus loads of school children fill the square to attend events with their favourite authors.

Sally J Collins
 I will be there with Sally J. Collins the illustrator of the Hamish McHaggis books and we will be joined by Hamish himself as we tell the story of the Great Glasgow Treasure Hunt

I love the opportunity to go and listen to all sorts of writers talking with passion about the books they have written and living close enough to Edinburgh I enjoy dipping in and out of the festival to see a wide range of events.

A couple I am particularly looking forward to are events with Jasper Fforde and Eoin Colfer.

So if you get the chance to come to Edinburgh in August come along to the book festival - go to some events and soak up the atmosphere.  And keep your eyes open, you never know who you might bump into. 


Linda Strachan is an award winning author of over 60 books for children of all ages from picture books to teenage novels and a  writing handbook  Writing for Children


Penny Dolan said...

Great so read lots of news about being at the EBF!

Nicola Morgan said...

Fun for all - readers and writers! The best thing is seeing all those readers, just lying on the grass, chatting, eating ice-cream, and reading, while waiting to see an author or just, well, lie on the grass, chatting, eating ice-cream and reading! It feels very real. All book festivals have that feeling, I think. People coming together for one reason: books. But, ok, Edinburgh is a bit special :)

Linda Strachan said...

Hi Penny, Hope to see you up in Edinburgh next year!

You are so right, Nicola, a special place with a wonderful atmosphere that brings people back year after year.
The readers who come and listen, sit about reading, talking and enjoying books are the lifeblood of any book festival, but then we writers are readers, too!