We started the weekend full of nerves and excitement. This only caused us to lose our way to The Guildhall but after a quick change of direction we were standing outside the beautiful doors and getting ready to go in.
It all began with the opening event. David Almond, author of Skellig, interviewing authors Julia Green and Cressida Cowell as well as librarian Gill Trueman. The talk involved questions on children’s books, namely, ‘how do we keep children reading?’ This question was pondered by the panel before delivering an interesting and funny response: to keep parents calm. It was really exciting to see some of our favourite authors talking in person about their own well-loved books. When Julia Green asked the audience if any of us had been Laura while reading the Little House in the Big Woods series, hands shot up all across the room, including mine. It was amazing to find that you shared a favourite book with one of your role models.
After the talk we convened at Waterstone’s for the opening night party. We felt a mixture of excitement and terror as we handed in our ticket and found ourselves suddenly mingling with people like Moira Young, Cressida Cowell and Marie-Louise Jensen. The atmosphere was buzzing as people were introduced to each other and got chatting with a glass of wine in their hands. It was such a fun and inspiring evening and was truly amazing to be talking to the people behind our favourite books.
Jump to Sunday, and we were stewarding at Mitchell Symons’s event about his new book, Happy Never After, a book of cautionary verses. Inspired by Hilaire Belloc, he had written funny and gripping poems about children who spend too much time on their phone and swear enough for them to die a horrible death. Quite a morbid thought, perhaps, but he had the audience roaring with laughter as he impersonated his characters and interacted with us. While we were a bit older than the majority of his intended audience we enjoyed it quite as much as they did and had a nice talk with him later about writing and the various causes of his characters dying. It was a brilliant start to a lovely morning.
From there we travelled to the Mission Theatre for Michelle Paver’s event, talking about her new series God’s and Warriors. After reading The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness and loving them I was really looking forward to hearing what she had to say on this new series. She gripped the audience with tales of her research, going from climbing a volcano to eating a raw seal liver in Greenland. It was amazing the way she spoke, pulling us into her story so that we left dying to read her new books and wanting to know her characters as well as she did. I have no doubt that these new books will be loved by any who reads them.
After that it was David Levithan, who we were all really excited to hear after reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He started the talk with an excerpt of his new book Every Day. It was a beautifully written book, exploring the idea of being put in a new and different body every day. He wrote and spoke in such a calm, sad way that there was no other choice but be sucked into his reading. After that he answered questions and we got a real sense of the funny, clever person he was. Every one left determined to go home and read everything he had ever written.
Over all it was an amazing weekend, packed with interesting people and books waiting to be read. It was a pleasure to be involved and I loved every minute of it.