Friday, 31 August 2012

Edinburgh Book Festival, authors, children and a few Wallys

The Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF) has just finished.  For the last 18 days authors of all kinds of books have been speaking in Charlotte Square gardens to audiences of all ages.

 I was delighted to be taking part in the festival again this year. I ran a workshop on Writing for Children and quite a few who attended it were keen on writing picture books. 

Hamish McHaggis and Writing for Children on display at EIBF
 After the workshop there is the opportunity for people to come along and speak to me and ask questions that they may not have managed to ask during the workshop, also perhaps to buy a book and get it signed.
I often end up at a signing table in the adult bookshop tent, as the workshop is for adults. But I would prefer to be signing books in the Children's Bookshop tent. That is because one of the things I always try to encourage aspiring children's writers to do is to spend time in the children's bookshop, where there is always such a wonderful variety of children's books.  It is so important if you want to write picture books, or any books for children, that you get to know as much about them and about what has been published, as you can.  The bookshop is the perfect browsing ground.

Diana Hendry, Catherine Rayner, Nicola Morgan and Vivian French

Here are some of the authors involved in this year's Schools Programme, gathered in the yurt.
The children's programme at the EIBF is so varied with events for tiny tots to teenagers and from the beginning of the second week there is also the Schools Programme, for school groups only, as most Scottish children are back to school by then.
The famous, and the not so famous, rub shoulders before and after events in the wonderful Author's Yurt, complete with coloured rugs and scattered cushions and a delightful supply of food and drink -soft drinks and strong coffee to calm nerves and a glass of wine, in the evenings, to celebrate and relax after an event.

Julia Donaldson
But on the very last day, when it is all but over, the book festival is given over to children for the School Gala Day.  General public are not allowed in on that day and buses line the roads around the square as school children stream into the balloon festooned walkways and excited chatter and squeals of delight are heard as they wait to enter the magical tents.

The yurt is much quieter on the Gala day but I still love it.  Only children's authors allowed.  Julia Donaldson, Simon Puttock, Cate James and Theresa Breslin were some of those there on Gala Day this year, and it was also great to catch up with Joan Lingard as she was waiting to go and meet her young audience.

The bookfest staff were all dressed up  as Wally for the occasion and ready for fun.

Julia Donaldson was on first thing in the morning and as I came along the board walk I almost bumped into the Gruffalo - He's really tall and all brown fur and purple prickles!  But just as well he and our Hamish McHaggis never quite met!

Hamish McHaggis with Sally and Linda

Sally Collins, the Hamish illustrator, and I were doing a event based around the latest Hamish McHaggis book, the Great Glasgow Treasure Hunt, and we had a large tent filled with almost 300 children, their teachers, and some parents, too.   We had at least 5 different school groups some had come from as far as Falkirk, Fife and Glasgow and some were from Edinburgh, too.

Hamish made an appearance but soon had to go trotting back to find his Whirry Bang to have a little snack, once he had rescued his picnic basket from Sally who had been showing it to the children.

We also had some rather large and colourful mini beasts which some of the children were holding while we investigated which one is hidden in each Hamish book. It is one of the things that we kept as a little secret, never mentioning them in any of the books until this latest one! It is fun to hear how some children spotted that there was a mini beast on each page much faster than their parents did.

Sally and I also showed off the newest addition the Hamish family.   It is a cuddly Hamish toy which we hope will be on sale in time for Christmas this year. He is very soft and cuddly.

After the event we got the chance to meet some of the children as they came to get their Hamish books signed.

All too soon the book festival is over and soon the yurt and all the tents will be gone and Charlotte Square which will be magically turned back to a quiet leafy square of grass and trees, and looking as if there had never been anything else there.......................... until next year!        

Hope to see you there.

Linda Strachan is the award winning author of over 60 books for all ages, from picture books such as the Hamish McHaggis series, to teen novels and writing handbook Writing For Children


Lynne Garner said...

It sounds fab - which I'd been there. Perhaps next year...

Linda Strachan said...

It's always a lot of fun. Would be great to see you there in 2013, Lynne.

Paeony Lewis said...

Me too! The Edinburgh Festival is on my 'to do' list, and it's much higher up my list than 'painting the house' or 'renew the garden fence'. Hmmm... better hurry up and visit the festival because the fence is about to fall down and the paint is peeling.

Emma Barnes said...

Glad the Gala Day went well and love the cuddly Hamish! This year was my first EIBF as an author, presenting my book Wolfie, and I loved every moment of it.

Linda Strachan said...

Obviously it is a 'must' for you, Paeony, what with fences and paint. such a good excuse!

Linda Strachan said...

It was great to see you there with Wolfie,, Emma.

Jane Clarke said...

Fab event, hope to get there again one day.