and not. Bald is in, and didn’t even qualify as a description for when I went looking for Michael Grant. Not that that is his name. Plenty of other bald men in and out of yurt. Nick Sharratt at least has a beard. Found him signing on Sunday afternoon, wearing my favourite colour.
Ally Kennen and Lucy Christopher had to squeeze up and share a table, but they looked cheerful all the same. David Almond had one to himself, and a pretty long queue. So I didn’t get my book signed. Sigh.
Joyce Carol Oates was on early, for a Sunday, and we only just caught her at her signing, with not a hope of getting there for the official photo call. I was interested to see that some fans didn’t hesitate bringing out piles of their favourite books. With that long a queue I wouldn’t have, but we’re not all the same.
Francesca Simon was the star turn of the day for us. She’s still not blonde, but she assured us that her lovely dark hair is now nit-free. (She brought the subject up!) Never having seen Francesca in action, her Horrid Henry talk was high up on my wishlist. I even managed to get my Horrid Henry non-fan to come along, which isn’t bad going. She, and I, were very taken with Jolly Josh who seems like a dream young man, not averse to the HH limelight. Rabid Rebecca was there as well, and I wouldn’t hesitate having her as my babysitter.
This Anglo-Saxon expert told us about alliteration, her horrible younger siblings and her badly behaved niece and nephew (I can see the next family get-together will be a real success), and had the nerve to admit that she’d sent Josh to dance lessons. There were pink Polish underpants, and the sign language interpreter did a lot of jumping about, making funny faces. It’ll be the HH effect.
Francesca’s beautiful dress appeared to be fully zipped up, unlike that very embarrassing moment in the past. We were treated to the world premiere of a reading from Horrid Henry Rocks, and children were carried out, and carried back in again. The brave Francesca even sang her own heavy metal rock number, which isn’t bad, considering she doesn’t know anything about heavy metal.
And then we all ran to make it to the front of the signing queue. Obviously we didn’t all make it to the front, but I didn’t do bad for an old witch. Even got to meet lovely PR lady Kate at long last.
The middle of the afternoon passed in a bit of a blur, but I know we toed and froed. Had been having an exchange of messages with Michael Grant about where and when to meet up for a brief interview (a witch has to make good use of his rare trip to Europe, all the way from California). In the end we just accidentally ran across each other, so sat down on that well used decking for a chat. I believe I even prevented the poor jet-lagged man from drinking his much needed coffee. Now that I think about it.
Michael then went to get ready for his event, where his fondness for Mac Keynotes caused a wee hiccough while all available computer nerds rushed to his aid. I suspect he was seconds away from phoning his son for help.
This was another talk where there were a good number of readers in the audience, by which I mean it wasn’t full of parents. And that’s always good. Michael wanted to show us what it’s like to be hungry, so experimented with ‘moral ambiguity’ on two basically decent volunteers, who were willing to bash each other with a baseball bat for a Snickers bar.
He played us the theme songs he’s chosen to identify his characters by, and told us how he met his wife. We know they cleaned toilets for ten years, before deciding to earn piles of money writing books. There was also the question of whether Stephen King ripped Michael off, or vice versa.
It seems Michael doesn’t plan his writing, but instead writes ‘as he goes along, freaking out every day’. And this two-finger typist likes the grossest scenes the best.
It was like Piccadilly Circus in the bookshop at five thirty, with three authors and their queues competing for attention. After the photographer was done, we met up with the lovely Donna Moore, who had come all the way from Glasgow to see us. (And for a party, it has to be admitted.) Donna wore her summer Doc Martens, which was a relief to me who had imagined nothing other than heels would do.
We went to the Spiegeltent for drinks (tea, you know), where we swapped information on what we’ve done and what we want to do and all that. Talked Old Dogs and who can be permitted to read it. (Neither the Grandmother nor Donna’s parents’ elderly neighbour.) She’s writing more capers. Two at once, or something. And we talked about Bristol and Alaska.
Left the Spiegeltent before we were kicked out. The tired witches to ‘go home’ and Donna to her party.