One of the highlights of my summer was attending the Edinburgh Book Festival. After a flying visit last year where I took part in the brilliant Baillie Gifford Schools Programme and talked quantum physics, parallel universes and The Many Worlds of Albie Bright to a packed theatre of awesome young readers, I was thrilled to be invited back to the festival this year for events in both the children’s and adults’ programmes.
Arriving in Edinburgh on Friday evening, I headed straight to the Author’s Yurt where I was greeted by Janet Smyth, the festival’s ace Children & Education Programme Director who took me along to the swanky new Greenhouses that had sprung up along George Street opposite the festival’s home on Charlotte Square. This was the venue for my first festival event – a creative writing workshop for adults on ‘Writing for Young Readers’.
I’d asked all the attendees at the event to bring along a favourite children’s book and as we talked about the ways these books had shaped us and explored the craft of writing for children, it reminded me of how important children’s books are to us at different stages of our lives and what an honour it is to write for young readers. At the end of session, some of the attendees shared the openings of the stories they had worked on in the workshop with me and I’m sure I’ll be reading more from these writers in the future. Huge thanks to Joely Badger for her ace organisation of this workshop and the lovely folk at the Printing Press Bar and Kitchen who prepared cocktails on the night!
On Saturday morning, I got the chance to hang out with Kathryn Evans, author of the amazing YA novel More of Me which won the Edinburgh Book Festival First Book Award in 2016. Popping into Jonathan Stroud’s ‘Freedom to Think’ creative workshop at the festival, Kathryn and I promptly invented the HOW TO MAKE IT BIG IN BOOKS board game which you can see below. I’m sure this will soon get snapped up by some forward-thinking publisher, so keep an eye out for it under your Christmas tree!
At the Edinburgh Book Festival the Author’s Yurt is a constant hive of creative brilliance with ace authors, illustrators and festival folk buzzing around. It was great to catch up there with Jonathan Meres, Andy Seed, Sam Gayton, Helen Peters and Harry Baker. At one point, I was sitting in the summer sunshine outside the yurt whilst inspirational former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell sharpened his pencils on the table next to mine, but I managed to resist the temptation of asking him to draw me like one of his French girls…
Sunday morning in Edinburgh brought with it my ‘Strange and Unexpected’ event with Ross Welford, author of Time Travelling with a Hamster and What Not to Do If You Turn Invisible, in the Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre. I had tons of fun talking about astronauts, aliens and The Jamie Drake Equation and a big thank you to the audience members who got up on stage to help me to prove that any aliens orbiting Gliese 131, a star system seventy light years away, would probably be big fans of Elvis Presley! It was great to have the chance to chat to so many readers at the signing after the event and inspirational to learn from them how books like The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake Equation are sparking their interest in science.
After this, I just had time to get the author portrait you can see at the top of this blogpost taken by super-talented festival photographer Chris Close and finally attend the Jenny Brown Associates summer party after ten years of being represented by my wonderful agent Lucy Juckes there, before bidding a reluctant farewell to Edinburgh and finally heading home.
Huge thanks to Janet Smyth and all the fantastic team who make the Edinburgh Book Festival run like a dream. Thank you for inviting me to be part of the wonderful carnival of ideas and excitement that you create every year in Charlotte Square Gardens.