Your comprehensive witch turned ever more school-like on Monday. The very helpful press officer at the Edinburgh International Book Festival had watched me all week, and came to the conclusion that I really do look like a school after all. So I could go to the ball, and all that.
Being allowed to attend a couple of schools events in Charlotte Square meant some hasty reorganising of the social/business side of things. But it could be done. We got out of bed really early to have scones and tremendously dense porridge with Debi Gliori. She had the porridge and I had a scone, which was lovely, but no Flora McLachlan scone. It was raining so we sought shelter in the bookshop café. Debi was surprised to find a café in the bookshop, which just goes to show how much she gets around.
We talked of books, especially Pure Dead Magic, with and without scones. New picture books, and old ones too. Books (her own) that make Debi cry. Moved on to fiddling. That’s as in music, not what some unscrupulous people do with their accounts.
Then I had to dash to hear Julia Golding talk about her plentiful genres of books. Is there a genre the woman hasn’t tried by now? And 15 books since 2006? Honestly. She’s a book machine. Julia gave the school classes from Aberdeen and elsewhere a history lesson, and we will never forget Bluetooth now. Nor Thorfinn Skullsplitter or the blood eagling, as once done by Julia’s own teacher. Julia is another one writing about Venice, with her new book The Glass Swallow set there. And she likes being God, apparently.
More dashing. More food. But first John Boyne, who was lined up against the willows to have his likeness taken. Then to the Spiegel tent where Mum Clare from Random fed us. Although in the end there was no tea, as promised earlier. Random water did as well. I now feel I know everything that will happen in their book world for the next six months. Not sure where my reading time will come from. But will want to read. Lots.
The schoolwitch ran on to her next schools event with Keith Gray and Patrick Ness who were talking about Losing It with Daniel Hahn. And let me tell you; this was the best event so far. When I normally feel happy to leave after an hour, I could have gone on for twice the time. So could the schools, I imagine, except they had their buses waiting. The reason the talk was so good will have been the combination of the speakers and the topic and the audience. For once, we had an audience consisting primarily of the ones who should read the book. Not babies, not parents. Just teenagers. And – well – me.
Brave schools which take their young readers to this kind of talk. Patrick and Keith were welcomed like superstars. Keith talked about the varying ages of consent around the world, and the trailer for Losing It was shown. Great trailer. And they pointed out the very recent changes in the law. Seven years ago this talk would have been illegal. Makes you think.
When writing his story for Losing It, Patrick expected it to be ‘toned down’. It wasn’t. Someone who turned down the offer to contribute, did so on the mistaken assumption that it had to be autobiographical. As Keith said, it’s not a book on ‘what goes where and how’.
Their advice to the teenagers is to read everything, including rubbish. And for writing they say to write what you yourself want to read. These are two authors who readers really listen to. We need more events like this one.
(Photos by Helen Giles)