Sunday, 26 August 2012

Three Days in Edinburgh!

I 've returned from three days in the beautiful (and sunny!) city of Edinburgh, where I presented a writing workshop for the EIBF's Schools Programme.

The event itself was delight--about 70 14-year-olds and me in a tent, talking about creating fictional settings, characters and conflict. With such intelligent and engaging students, and such high calibre TAs, including the Guardian's own Julia Eccleshare, the hour flew by.

So, what of the rest of my Edinburgh experience?

It began two days earlier when I met up with my son and daughter, and other friends. Hannah was working at as production intern for the comedy organisation responsible for the prodigiously talented The Boy With Tape on His Face, and I was lucky enough to get a ticket for his sold-out show.


...the next day I saw my son Sean (also prodigiously talented, of course) perform in his own free fringe comedy show with Adam (Prodigiously Talented) Hess. 

On Thursday, it was time for the main event (mine, anyway, if not the Edinburgh Festival's!)

The workshop went well (again, thanks to the superb EIBF staff!) and afterwards I signed copies of at Yellow Lake and chatted informally to the dedicated and enthusastic teachers who'd brought their students to my event. I can't thank the participating schools enough. I can't over-praise the behaviour, effort and talent of the students, either--they were fantastic!

After the signing, of course, there was time to relax....

And again, outside the writer's yurt, I struck gold--sparkling companions, perfect weather...

The Ab Fabs and me! 

 And, of course, the legendary (well, it soon will be if I have anything to do with it)  Authors' Toilet...

Teri Terry's grinning and bearing it...

...Dave Cousins is bearing it...just.

From an unforgettable day to a lovely evening.

The Teen Titles party, sponsored by Edinburgh City Council's Teen Titles Magazine, brought together writers, readers, teachers and librarians.

Here's lone Englishwoman, Kate Harrison, being totally outnumbered by Americans Teresa Flavin, Jane McLoughlin and Elizabeth Wein. Thanks to Linda Strachan for the lovely pic!

Again, thank you to everyone who made this such an exceptional experience for me!  


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Twas the Night Before Edinburgh

Last night, I had a wonderful prelude to my Schools Programme event at the Edinburgh Festival on Thursday: a long, animated conversation about "At Yellow Lake" with my own niece and nephew, who are aged 14 and 12.

Seamus (far left) and Molly (irght)at the launch of  At Yellow Lake

Molly and Seamus, by their own admission, aren't avid readers. Seamus, in fact, rarely reads, and like may 12-year-old boys, gets most of his "story" action from computer games. They also admitted that if their auntie hadn't written it, it was unlikely they ever have picked up a copy of "At Yellow Lake."

But what made the night such an unexpected pleasure for me, was the way these young (and somewhat reluctant) readers became so involved in At Yellow Lake--the characters, the setting, the plot. They both "got" what I had tried to do, and to hear Molly's insightful ideas and Seamus' amazing recollection of details made me feel proud, not of my book, but of two brilliant kids who are related to me!

However, the highlight of the night wasn't just the perceptive character analyses, or even the generously poured glasses o "Dino." It was the Seamus and Molly's coining of a new, and inspired euphemism for, well...let's just call it "wigwamming."

So, well done and thank you, Molly and Seamus.  No only did you make me laugh, but you inspired me as a writer and made me more aware than ever of what young readers relate to and are excited by.

I couldn't have asked for a better Edinburgh eve!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Holiday Sounds

The best thing about a holiday to me is not the sun, or the sea, or even the sights...

It's the sound.

Sometimes it's the lack of sound...a quiet place away from other people, away from traffic, away from music, even...

Sometimes it's the sound of strangers' voices, the babel of foreign tongues, whether in a market in Dhaka or a Croatian beach, relying on inflection, inferring meaning, imagining an abstract painting of words.

Another sound that I relish on holiday is the silencing of my own writer's voice. No planning, no drafting, no thinking about character or plot or market...

Without access to social media the sound of virtual voices goes quiet, too. No mention of reviews or word counts, no iamediting hashtags.

The world makes its own noise for a change, without any input from me.