I’ve been going to Edinburgh for years – mostly to the children’s events. It was here, a few years back, that I got to see two of my childhood idols: Anthony Buckeridge, the creator of the hilarious Jennings, and Diana Wynne Jones, who wrote Howl’s Moving Castle.
I’ve been able to prowl around the fabulous book tents, scoff the fabulous ice-cream and even sneak into the authors’ yurt, when invited by my lovely publisher or author friends. So naturally it’s become a burning ambition to do an event at Edinburgh myself.
Last year it almost came true when my book How (Not) To Make Bad Children Good came out at the same time as the Festival, and I signed the first ever copy of the first edition in the Festival bookshop. And this year it finally happened. I was asked to do an event. I was to present my book, Wolfie – hot off the presses – to a tent full of Edinburgh school children.
Yay hay! In triumphant mood I went along to the yurt to collect my author’s pass and complimentary tickets. Complimentary tickets! I gloated over them for a little while. Then I had a quick nose into the yurt itself. It’s a lovely space, but at that moment bursting with scary looking literary types, all deep in conversation. I slunk out and decided to check out the book tent first.
Dismay! I couldn’t find my books. Then I realised they were there – and spread out over two stands.
I had a couple of days before my event and I made good use of them. One session I enjoyed was with sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson, and scientist and novelist Jennifer Rohmer, about the lack of scientists in fiction. I’m well aware of that. My own books, Jessica Haggerthwaite: Witch Dispatcher (and now Wolfie) are two of the few I’ve encountered for children where science is integral to the plot.
I also made a diversion to visit Parliament. The Holyrood one. As part of the Festival of Politics, there was a Carnegie-sponsored panel discussion on children’s reading, with author Theresa Breslin among others, and I was able to go along.
Back at the Book Festival, I made a discovery. Not only is there the lovely authors’ yurt – with FREE CAKE – but there is even a special authors’ toilet. Who knows who you might bump into?
And yesterday, my big day arrived. The lovely people in the yurt told me that there were 150 children attending – a bit of a shock, as I was expecting about 50. I was miked up, and I met my wonderful Chair from the Scottish Booktrust, who put me right at ease.
We were off!
After that first moment of blinking into the lights, I forgot my nerves. They were a lovely audience (some of them even knew the latin name for wolf!) and it was all great fun. The quiz was just the right side of chaos. But I couldn’t resist bragging about the free cake in the yurt.
So not a surprise when I bumped into one young member of the audience in there later...
Emma's book Wolfie is available from Amazon