I just don’t know.
That’s whether to go at all, and if I do, for how long, and for what part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Was so sure last year I would take a break this year. But reading the programme is like shopping for cake, or cheese, when hungry. It looks good.
So far I have merely had the quickest of read-throughs and made a makeshift list of the most interesting events. Three colours of ink to differentiate between children’s, adult programme and schools. I know I am no school, but they do have some really good authors for the schools. (And sometimes I wonder why they only offer these great people to schools?)
I’ll have another read and cross-out and decide who I might see somewhere else, or who I have already seen a lot of, so could give up their spot for someone I don’t know so well.
I need to point out here, that with the odd exception, I would enjoy every single event. If they were offered on their own, and I was free and rested, and didn’t have to concern myself with clashes or if I can make the last train home afterwards or any other silly practical worries.
But if I have to pick ‘only some’ then children’s authors rate the highest, and the more unusual offerings or those travelling from far away will – probably – trump the common garden variety. Although at times dandelions are lovely, and orchids just too fancy.
I have not counted men versus women, but am confident the numbers are evenly matched. (Although, a rapid glance at my own little list does suggest a slight bias towards the men. Oh dear. I’ll obviously count really carefully and make sure I choose as many of them as I do the ladies. If I choose at all.)
Having said that, I must mention that Keren David is doing her first Edinburgh event, and Elizabeth Wein – who wrote that book I really, really liked – will also be debuting. Andy Mulligan is coming from the Philippines, and Elen Caldecott from somewhere a little closer. Brighton boy Chris Riddell will be painting and drawing for the duration, so he will be tired.
In my comment to Penny Dolan on yesterday’s festival interview, I hinted at something I might mention here. And it’s that while there are lots of good names, hopefully evenly distributed between the sexes, and there are both the very well known authors everyone has heard of, as well as the new ones with perhaps just one novel published, it will be the Jacqueline Wilsons and Michael Morpurgos of this world who are going to be mentioned (most) in the official festival publicity. It is from that category of authors that the photo shoots for the press will be chosen.
That’s what I am unhappy about. I do understand that newspapers won’t flock to purchase pictures of the least know authors. They will want Jacqueline again, or Patrick Ness (should he be offered a slot with the paparazzi this year) because he is hot news.
Last year we found a nice tree trunk to use as an alternate studio. That’s for when we couldn’t walk people to the willows. Trees are good. And I am determined that non-millionaires will also get their faces on here.