Tag Archives: Tohby Riddle

Last day of EIBF 2010

Entrance tent to the EIBF

Some late thoughts on the last day of the book festival.

It’s actually been quite good listening to some authors talk about their books, when I haven’t read them. I tend to think that I want to reinforce my love for a book by hearing the author speak about it, but it can be refreshing to listen with no previous knowledge at all.

Press yurt coffee, EIBF

Gillian Philip booksigning

Poster at EIBF

Chris Close and Martin Bell at the EIBF

Yesterday's crop of photos by Chris Close

Philip Pullman in Charlotte Square

The photography guys at the EIBF

A C Grayling and the Swedes

VTB at the EIBF

Queue in Charlotte Square

Book festival mud

Garth Nix was one such writer, and Barry Hutchison and his Invisible Fiends was another. Tohby Riddle. Katie Davies.

Daughter has been inspired to think about which accent she’d rather speak. A Scottish one came high on her list. At least until she heard an Aussie accent from the ‘arse end of the world’, and I have to point out – very strongly – that it’s a direct quote from Simmone Howell.

I don’t often go round photographing posters, but in the London Review tent the one with the name Gilsenan on it caught my eye. Any ideas why?

As Daughter got excited about one Alan Davies, I realised I’d been to an event with another Alan Davies.

It’s been fun witnessing Chris Close taking his own brand of photographs of visiting authors, and then the next day to see the result printed out on canvas and hung somewhere in Charlotte Square. There was a sex discussion one evening, where Chris received complaints that he mainly takes pictures of men. His retort was that more women than men turn him down… And to be fair, they aren’t exactly beauty shots. Good, but more fun than pretty.

Having stood about hearing the press photographers addressed as ‘gentlemen’ for the last fortnight, and thinking of the female ones, I have hit on the prefect one-word solution. Guys. It seems to be acceptable to be addressed as guys by waiting staff in restaurants, so might work on both sexes of the press, too. Because there are two.

Unless you’re A C Grayling, who only got the ladies. We had this freelance Swedish photographer who turned up one evening, getting quite vociferous on sexism in general. And then we never saw her again. Couldn’t decide who had the best hair.

Best beard goes to Philip Ardagh (below), as always. He appeared to have ditched his towel, but I forgot to ask Philip about it.

There was the initial problem facing your VTB, when her Stirling broadband failed, but the spotty table in the tent was an OK place to work from, until the timely dongle saved the blogging industry.

The queues can’t be avoided if you pick a popular event. The hardest thing is to ascertain you are joining the correct one.

Mud failed to be a problem, because the sun shone far too frequently. Not grumbling. The ducks did, but maybe they never saw this little wet paradise in the corner.

Not getting up and going on the train every day will feel good. For a while. It will also be a relief not waking up to the nearby Stirling High School’s bell, which sounds much more like a warning that they are about to use explosives, than that they want the students to go to their classrooms.

Philip Ardagh at the EIBF

Coming and going

The trains continue to be good. And bad. Horrendous late journey ‘home’ on Saturday night, with two coaches only, and rather a lot of passengers. Did they forget it’s the Edinburgh Festival? The next morning I looked at the number of people waiting for the train and trembled with fear. It’d have to be the roof. When the 10.02 arrived consisting of not two, nor of four coaches, but six, I very nearly kneeled on the platform to thank ScotRail. It was only the state of my knees that prevented this heartfelt thanks.

I want to be Nicola Morgan in my next life. That woman has the shoes and the wit that a witch can only aspire to. And she has it in a most colour coordinated way. On Monday Nicola had managed to sell out her Thrillers event, but I got in, courtesy of Nicola’s own ticket. It was a pity Nicola herself couldn’t get in after that…

Nicola Morgan

Joking aside, I spent the first few minutes admiring the turquoise suede boots and the light blue cardigan with matching turquoise brooch. It’s so hard to carry that combination off, but if anyone can, Nicola can. Then once she started talking I suspected I might have to leave rather hurriedly. She promised gore, and fainthearted that I am I could imagine myself lying on the floor at the back. It didn’t get as bad as that, but she had me worried. Who’d have thought an event could be so thrillerish?

It was Nicola’s novel Fleshmarket that scared me. It replaced the book on wolves she had been writing, and I’m sure it’s ‘very nice’, really. I breathed easier as she moved on to Death Watch and Wasted. I hadn’t realised Nicola actually tossed a coin to decide how to proceed in Wasted when she came to the forks in the road, so to speak. And in Death Watch it’s hardly surprising the reader can’t guess who the stalker is. Nicola herself didn’t know at the time.

So, if I had fainted ten minutes into the talk, would the event have turned out very differently?

Ian Rankin

Simon Callow

In my short break after the gore, I came across Ian Rankin doing something. I’m not sure what sort of something, and the photo was taken some distance off, which would explain the blur. Also found Simon Callow ‘being done’ at the entrance to the yurt, so gulped down my drink and joined the paparazzi at the back for a go at this ex-Pliny from the Roman Mysteries.

I believe the ducks have complained. It’s too dry.


The day’s second event featured Keith Gray and Tohby Riddle with Philippa Cochrane. They discussed Keith’s Ostrich Boys and Tohby’s first teen novel The Lucky Ones. The Australian is best known for his younger picture books, all of which looked very appealing in the bookshop, but I contained myself. Just.

Keith Gray

Tohby Riddle

Both books are about boys and, I think, about death. Girls feature as a plot device only, and in Ostrich Boys Keith ponders how ‘rubbish it must be to be dead’. Quite. He borrowed the idea from his favourite film Stand By Me. Tohby’s novel has something to do with Bob Dylan, and also Sydney Harbour Bridge. I think he described it as a metaphysical experience, but now might be the time to admit I didn’t understand much of what he said at all.

Linda Strachan was in the audience, and she wanted to know if they could see themselves writing about girls, to which the answer was a resounding ‘no’ from both. Boys need more books, and girls have quite enough as it is. Which may well be true. Although Keith’s inspiration came from a trailer for the girly film Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. That’s American pants. In case you wondered.

Linda Chapman

As usual I hung in the bookshop a bit, and I happened to find Linda Chapman signing in there a little earlier, as I passed. That’s what’s nice. This looking into the shops to see who might be there.