They hear voices

That’s what they do. And then they write books.

There was talk of body fluids and worse. Ruta Sepetys, who’s just had her first book, about starving people in Siberia, published, described her style of writing as ‘projectile vomiting’ and later told of her editor advising her to ‘watch her gratuitous defecation’.

Although Morris Gleitzman said that if necessary ‘let there be defecation’.

Morris Gleitzman, Grace; Anna Perera, The Glass Collector; Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray

The witch went to London yesterday for a panel discussion at Puffin HQ between Morris Gleitzman, Anna Perera and Ruta Sepetys, and kept in beautiful order by Claire Armitstead of the Guardian. I knew I liked her!

Before the panel Puffin invited some great book bloggers to a private meeting with the three authors, so there was the old witch in the company of five bloggers all of an age to be my Offspring. Luckily for them they are not.

And before that, I found myself standing in reception at Penguin, saying I was there to see Jayde Lynch. ‘And me’ whispered Anna Perera at my side. She and Ruta had got there before me and Morris arrived soon after, and they were all there because they’d been told they had to see me.

That’s what I like!

Morris Gleitzman

Anna and I agreed that Morris is much taller in real life than he looks in his photos. I had imagined someone short. Maybe I just thought Morris had to be the same size as his pal Eoin Colfer?

The Tardis Room

Jayde came for us and I was taken to the Tardis Room, which wasn’t as big inside as it might have been. But nice enough anyway. I decided on pot luck and they sent Anna in first for our ten minutes (who said I’m greedy?). Next came Morris, who could have talked for much longer than his ten minutes, followed by Ruta. As if by agreement none of them sat down in the same place as the others. I’d like to think of them waiting – NCIS style – to be interrogated and exchanging information on how horrible I’d been and what I wanted to know.

Anna Perera

Down to the 6th floor for the blogger gathering. I’ve only come across Jenny of Wondrous Reads previously, but had checked the others out before I came. She was there for Morris. Mostly, anyway. As luck would have it, he came and sat down next to her, so that was good.

The others were Sarah Gibson from Feeling Fictional and Carly Bennett of Writing from the Tub. Dwayne Halim – who is a girl – from Girls Without a Bookshelf, and last but not least Rhys of Thirst for Fiction. All very young, as I said. Lots of discussion with the authors, and a lack of agreement on e-readers.

I’m having second thoughts about Twitter now, as it seems Rhys was responsible for some successful tweeting on behalf of Ruta’s book. Morris can’t possibly tweet, as he is unable to write less than 30,000 words on anything.

The authors interviewed each other on writing technique, and Morris firmly believes in the ‘ late in and early out of scenes’ way of not dwelling too long on anything and becoming boring. And he plans meticulously. This is where Ruta’s projectile vomiting comes in.

Ruta Sepetys

People helped themselves to the books on the table, stuffing them into their choice of colour Puffin bags. I picked an orange one this time. And then on to the tenth floor, with ‘the best view in London.’ Ruta and I chatted on the way, and she was easily impressed by me actually having met Meg Rosoff. She’s got good taste.

Surprisingly I found Candy Gourlay during pre-panel drinks. Wrong publishing house, but she sneaked in to see Morris. They all love Morris. Hmm. The usual faces were there (along with their bodies, naturally). I took my life in my hands when stepping out onto the balcony thing in order to take photos of the Thames. I did it for you.

The Thames

Candy sat as close to Morris as possible, while I hid by the door in my usual fashion. And I apologise to my neighbour for my snacking. It was dinner time. Adele Minchin introduced everyone, and she made me think. She pointed out that children’s books are for children. I tend to forget they aren’t just for me.

Anna, Ruta and Morris introduced their books, and after some discussion about toilet topics, etc, it was question time. Nicholas Tucker in the audience kicked off with the comment that he felt there could be a need for counselling services after such hard punching topics. People disagreed for the most part, and maybe it is that we get softer with age. Children can be quite hard at times.

Minister Gove was mentioned, and we all felt that the three books we were there to talk about should be on his infamous list. Then we went one step better and decided the list should be much longer, if there is to be a list, which is silly in itself.

One hour can last a long time, but unfortunately last night the hour was the fast kind, so we found ourselves eating pizza slices and falafel before we knew where we were. The real fans queued up to have their books signed, with Candy getting in very early, thanks to her front row seat.


13 responses to “They hear voices

  1. It was a fun evening, Miss Witch – and I am dead jealous of your exclusive 10 minutes with each of the authors! Great report! And thank you for the best view in London, I was in such a thrall I didn’t get a chance to pop out on the balcony to admire it!

  2. PS I didn’t manage to get a Puffin bag.

  3. Next time let’s take cups of tea out and admire the view… And the bags were for – ahem – the ‘real’ bloggers. Put on your journalist’s hat in future, and you too can be real.

  4. I linked to your report on my blog post – your notes are far better than mine or maybe your listening skills are better or maybe I should’ve been taking notes instead of taking pictures.

  5. You must have been taking notes. You’ve got what I was too tired to put in. At some point I was unable to read my notes, or understand them, so didn’t get much past the poo.

  6. My final comment: there was falafel?

  7. With chilli jam. I was working hard not to have jam all over my face and fingers.

  8. Thank you dear Bookwitch for risking life and limb to get that beautiful picture of the Thames. Sitting here in Brussels, it makes me feel quite nostalgic for lovely London. Would like to enlarge it and stick it on my wall. Thanks too for all your brilliant bites, which I love to read and which inspire many a book-buying trip to amazon.

  9. Well, you know, I COULD have gone nearer the edge. Except I couldn’t, really. At least I didn’t scream. I also counted on the smokers out there to save me if need be.

  10. Fab write up Ann & I’m impressed you got it written up so quickly! It was great to meet you even though we didn’t get much time to chat! I’m flattered that you counted my name amongst the younger bloggers but I have to confess I have about 10 years on most of the others LOL.

  11. I can probably still be your mother, though.
    There is a reason I’m sitting here, barely awake, and that’s having written the piece immediately I got off that train. Same train Jenny was on, but we only discovered that as we arrived… I have slept for at least four hours. : )
    Yes, I had hoped for more mingling at the blogger thing. As it was I accosted Rhys outside in the street on our way home. We both decided he was heading in a southeasterly direction. Always good to know where you are going, and maybe he doesn’t get chatted up by elderly women so often.

  12. Kathryn Evans

    Bookwitch you are our ears at the nub. Glad you didn’t fall in the Thames or we’d never have got to share :O)

  13. Have found another report from the evening at Thirst for Fiction, where Rhys is only slightly dismissive about the elderly people he met. ‘Past my thirties…’ indeed. Nicely matured, I say.

    Seriously, I’m pleased the next generation (and a half) are writing about books and events.

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