Tag Archives: Iris Feindt

A moving account

This is your second-hand witch speaking to you. (Blogging, really, but you knew that.)

We moved in yesterday. Well, the furniture moved in, and when it had done so there was no room for us, so we are biding our time until such a moment that we have cut a path through the house.

And because of this, as you already know very well, I am not swanning around the Manchester Children’s Book Festival. The lovely people there have their own blog and you can read what they get up too. They have said I can borrow their photos, so I shall jolly well do so, and here are some of them. Doesn’t it look like they are having a good time?

Curtis Jobling started off the whole book festival and I can see he’s up to his normal tricks, cartooning away. He looks a little hairier than last time, but the man does write werewolf books.

Author of the Wereworld Series and Illustrator of Bob the Builder Sketches a Bob-the-Builder-Turned-Werewolf

These two people I always ‘manage to avoid.’ No matter how many festivals they and I go to, we never coincide. I’m in despair, actually. Who wouldn’t want to be dazzled by the very pretty Sarah McIntyre, and the almost as pretty Philip Reeve?

Authors of 'Oliver and the Seawigs' - Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre and the Sea Monkeys

As for avoiding, you can see what the green bear is doing, can’t you? He’s got James Draper on his blind side, which in effect must mean James wasn’t there at all.

Festival Director James Draper and Humphrey the Hospital Bear

Iris Feindt and Livi Michael look like they think it’s their festival. That they can play on the furniture. (Oh, I suppose it’s all right.)

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And my blogging colleague Kevin with – the to me – unknown lady passenger is having a fun time, too.

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Kaye and Claudia are posing with two lovely St John Ambulance men (the Resident IT Consultant was also unavailable, for the same reason as the witch). I do hope they weren’t needed. SJA, not Kaye and Claudia. They are always needed.

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That path I mentioned before? I reckon the best thing would be to burn all the books. There can be no earthly reason for us keeping all those books. The boys from Tillicoultry clearly thought so, as they staggered in with thousands of book boxes. (I swear – pardon – they must have been breeding in storage. The books. Not the Tillicoultry boys.)

(I – probably – didn’t mean that. I am just in a jealous mood, festival-wise, and wishing I could see my new house for boxes full of books. My heart is in Manchester. Which is an odd phrase, but why not?)

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The grand opening

I’d have considered it a bonus if the microphone had been working, but I will get back to that piece of equipment further on in this post.

Graphic History of the Future, Holden Gallery

Coming face-to-face with Ilya Kuryakin was good. He and that Napoleon Solo were among the first people I ‘met’ on arrival at the Holden Gallery, for the official opening of the mcbf. Their colleagues Mr Bond, The Saint and Modesty Blaise were also present, albeit only as exhibits in the new Graphic History of the Future, which by happy coincidence also opened last night.

I mingled as best I could. Ran into the Bag Lady of Chinley, so it’s a small world. The other Bag Lady, Iris Feindt, was there wearing new spots, and Liz Kessler and friend mingled, along with Vice-Chancellor John Brooks and Carol Ann Duffy.

Graphic History of the Future, Holden Gallery

As I went round snapping Captain Scarlett and the Thunderbirds and all those other lovely posters, we were treated to steel drums by the Steel Rockers. Very nice!

Steel Rockers

John Brooks, MMU

Then the speeches began, and I apologise for being short, and some distance away. I clearly should not have allowed myself to be lured off-course by The Men From U.N.C.L.E. and instead sat myself down on one of the chesterfield sofas. At the front. Would have been better than standing at the back. Vice-Chancellor John Brooks began by saying what a good idea this book festival business is, praising Kaye and James, and thanking people, left right and centre. Then the Dean took over with more worthy comments on all of the festival happenings.

Speeches at Holden Gallery

James and Kaye carried on, telling us the background to the festival, which I already knew about. They thanked people. (There should be a limit to how many people you are allowed to name and thank in any one speech.) I’d like to think they thanked me, if only in spirit. The reason I don’t actually know is that we couldn’t hear the first four speakers. The microphone wasn’t doing what it was put there for. I caught words here and there.

Carol Ann Duffy

But what do I know? Then came Carol Ann Duffy, and I’d say the microphone was as scared of her as I am, as it instantly sprang into working order. (Could it be the way it is with animals? They sense who is boss.) Carol Ann either read a rude poem, or she didn’t. I’m not sure.

Poem at Holden Gallery

After Carol Ann we had another three speakers, but since the poor microphone lost the will to live soon after, I only suspect that they all talked about the exhibition. I wandered off to commune with Ilya. The children who were present drew on the walls, but they were allowed to. I pondered joining them before chickening out on grounds of old age.

Wall art

Once the speeches were over and the chesterfields were free, I sank down in one to rest, startling a gentleman by airing my antique mobile phone, and enjoyed a brief chat with Liz Kessler. In person, not on the phone, I hasten to add. The Steel Rockers played some more and Carol Ann joined in dancing.

Carol Ann Duffy and the Steel Rockers

I wanted to catch Kaye and James together for a photo, and this is what happened. James reckons it describes their working relationship perfectly, but I’m guessing the camel had something to do with Kaye’s dreamy state. James kept flapping his speech in front of him. I’m guessing he was hot.

Kaye Tew and James Draper

In-house blogger Kevin and I agreed to make things up for our posts, on account of our deficient hearing. He promised to back me up on all that I’ve said here. Or else!

Iris seems to want me to get her another bag. I’m not sure. She might be crazy. I’ll find out.

Iris's bag

Now we just need to be ready bright and early for MMU Plaza for a whole Saturday full of authors and events. And children. Young readers.

Six talk paragraphing at MMU

There was the killer camel, although luckily it didn’t succeed, or we’d have been one mcbf organiser short. If you suffer from asthma, don’t wear dusty camels on your head. (If that camel is lucky, it will be photographed one day soon.) Other than that, and the mermaid and the bunting, MMU Plaza – as I like to call it – was surprisingly empty on Thursday evening. That’s because the book festival proper hasn’t quite begun, and the stalls were waiting for Saturday to arrive. (Usually happens after Friday.)

And between you and me, like so many other venues, it is nicer when its designated users aren’t there. What am I saying? I didn’t mean that. Hundreds of children will enhance the place no end. Looking forward to it.

Liz Kessler, N M Browne, Julia Green, Lorrie Porter, Jacqueline Roy and Iris Feindt

I was there last night to hear whether there is any point in going to uni to learn to write children’s books. Five – or six, depending on your mathematical abilities – authors had come to talk to hopefuls and other interested people about paragraphing and commas, feedback and whingeing.

I have doubted that writing courses like the MA offered by the MMU and universities like Kingston and Bath Spa actually do any good, feeling that either you’ve got it or you don’t. But, you know, maybe there is something in this, after all. MMU certainly have a good track record, and Liz Kessler from their very first batch was there to prove how well you can do.

Several of the others both write and teach, and all have had different experiences of learning and publishing. MMU’s Jacqueline Roy chaired the discussion (since Sherry Ashworth had gone off to admire brand new grandchild), noting that all six of them were female. Reviewers, on the other hand, are often male.

Nicky Browne reckons she is still learning to write, after all those books she’s written. She writes fast, but only when she feels like it, and then she writes too much. She’s on her third identity as an author, and has temporarily given up her male persona of N M Browne.

Liz Kessler told how she wanted to hand back her advance when she found the writing hard going, but once she’d wanted to hand it back for several books, she recognised it as one of the things that happen, and which will pass. You learn through doing.

Julia Green’s parents read to her, and her father still checks out children’s books after all these years. She went on a writing course for David Almond once, and his encouragement was very important to her. Julia now teaches at Bath Spa, and one thing she finds her students doing is polishing their writing for the assessment, rather than for the work itself.

Lorrie Porter is a recent MMU graduate, with a contract for two books, the first of which will be published in February next year. She feels that writing is different from most jobs because you need to feel you can do it. ‘Normal’ jobs you just do, without thinking about it. She said it’s vital that you invest time in yourself. And it definitely is harder writing for children, because they will put down a boring book.

Iris Feindt was a reluctant reader and a bad speller, but once she learned to like reading and found Enid Blyton, it all changed. She recently graduated from MMU as well, and now teaches there, among other things. She calls herself the Queen of Paragraphing and thinks it’s good to teach, because it helps you learn. Giving feedback to others also helps.

Jacqueline Roy starts in the middle, with what she most wants to write. Otherwise she is scared. They all seem to have something they do to fool themselves. Jacqueline mentioned the importance of drafting, when asked for advice. And her editor always points out she has too much food in her books.

Julia found it useful realising that revision actually means ‘seeing again,’ and her advice is to consider point of view; making sure you get it right. Nicky warned against trying too hard, and her editor wants her ‘flashing teeth’ to flash a bit less. Iris thinks over-writing is a common mistake.

Liz favours ‘show, not tell’ and has her mother to thank for getting rid of lurching stomachs in all her books. Time travel is always risky, and it’s worth keeping in mind that Saturday comes after Friday. Every time.

The most important thing is to persist. But an MA in creative writing is no bad thing, and if that’s not feasible, then Arvon came highly recommended.

Maybe it was the tea and coconut cake before the event, but I couldn’t help admiring Nicky’s lovely dress. Or Liz’s boots and Julia’s jacket and Lorrie’s lace top. Jacqueline’s armband was great and she out-earringed even Nicky. For spotty dress (and I’m not even mentioning her bag) you couldn’t do spottier than Iris.

Unless you’re Liz’s Poppy (of pirate dog fame). Her lovely Dalmatian was not present, but we were given to understand that Poppy has adapted well to being famous.

Bookwitch bites #51

Are you people ready for more things I’ve not done?

This week I had hoped/intended/planned to attend the launch of the anthology Panopticon, published by Pandril Press. I thought it’d do me good to get out and rub shoulders with the Manchester literati. But there was the election and the tonsillitis and all sorts of things.

Iris Feindt at the Pandril Press Anthology Launch

I met Iris Feindt at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival in the summer and she had just written a children’s book which I read soon after. The reason you haven’t heard about it is that it’s still unpublished. But what has been published is this anthology, of which Iris is one of the contributors. She’s not alone, but I have chosen to illustrate the launch with a picture of her, since she’s the only one I would have known there. Had I made it.

But it looks like a good time was had by those who were there. The venue seems interesting, so one day I will investigate. There is so much I don’t actually know. (Admitting that didn’t hurt as much as I thought.)

The Pandril Press Anthology Launch

Also did not attend the Waterstone’s teen book club, and there is a gold star (sticky paper variety, obviously) to be won by whoever can work out why they didn’t want me there. The reason for my interest was their guest Annabel Pitcher, whose debut novel is My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

No prizes for guessing I haven’t read it. There is a very good reason for that. When I found out that David Tennant had agreed to read the audio book, I knew I just had to ‘read’ it with my ears. And I am, right this very moment. Almost. I’ve been sitting down with dear David whispering directly to me. It’s lovely!

Many thanks to Orion’s super efficient Nina for supplying me with Mr Tennant. Even if it’s ‘merely’ his voice. And I’m not too jealous as it seems she didn’t get to meet him…

The paracetamol

Hang on, it’s not me who’s the DT fan! It’s Daughter. Must be contagious.

She was. Possibly. Tonsillitis in never fun, but making your own ‘calpol’ was. Although we hadn’t quite expected the explosiveness of mixing soluble paracetamol with blackcurrant squash…

That’s science for you.

And whoever knew that the Royal Institution hosts discos? In my email inbox the message read ‘tickets still available for RI chairman’s disco. The full message, however, mentioned Sir Richard Sykes giving his inaugural discourse. Oh, the difference a few letters make!