The Edinburgh International Book Festival – Day 1
A day in the life of a book blogger at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
I woke startled, almost afraid I had missed something important. Then as the brain wheels started to turn I remembered that today was the day. A huge highlight of my year, the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I had gone to great lengths to prepare for the day, outfit ready, bag filled with every possible gadget and gizmo. Research on the authors I was going to see and a bucket load of passion and excitement flowing through me.
First thing I had to do is go to the press yurt to collect my press pass for the year and then your tickets for that day’s events.
I had arranged to meet author Wendy Jones for a bite to eat at the George Street, bookshop. The Society of Authors had a special event all day at the bookshop, so it was a hive of activity when I walked in. Gorgeous lunch and bookish chat with Wendy at a local restaurant. Then off to have a gander around the festival.
A selection of books that took my fancy today in the bookshop.
Also, the cakes, are amazing!
My first event was for Anne Applebaum, author of Red Famine.
Chaired by Allan Little.
This event really was very informative, I had no idea that there had been this huge famine in Ukraine in 1932 – 33. To find out that Stalin ordered officers to descend on homes and remove all food, clothing and also money. Of course, if the family were hiding food supplies it would show as they wouldn’t become ill or lose weight. It was all rather eye-opening and although a green behind the ears young Welsh reporter tried to tell the world about the horrific events he was immediately silenced by a respected American reporter who printed an article saying “The Russians are hungry not starving”. The full extent of the famine didn’t come to fruition until the 1990’s.
Next up I popped back along to visit the Society of Authors at the bookshop. To my delight, Margaret Skea, Chris Longmuir, Caroline Dunford and Margaret Skea were at the tent. It was lovely to catch up.
The second event of the day was for Philip Pullman author of many books including His Dark Materials.
Chaired by Val McDermid.
Little did I know as I stood in the extra long queue about the bookish treat I was in for with this event. I have been to 100’s of book events and this by far was my favourite and so special. The venue was jam-packed with not a spare seat. The hush that settled over the audience as Mr Pullman came into the Baillie Gifford main theatre was indeed magical. It was apparent from the start that Val McDermid is a huge fan of Mr Pullman’s work. The banter between the two flowed easily and it was engaging and very funny. Mr Pullman’s passion for stories was infectious. Mr Pullman expressed that he wished every school had a library and a librarian.
We learned that the bench featured in his novels is in the back of the Oxford Botanical Gardens, which in the book is one of the locations/objects that stand parallel in the two different worlds that the protagonists, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, inhabit. Unfortunately, his fans have taken to writing on the actual bench which in fact is dedicated to someone else with nothing to do with the books and Mr Pullman finds it rather upsetting. The Oxford Botanical Gardens are going to erect a sculpture nearby the bench so that fans have something just for them that they can visit.
The event was fascinating and I left, I practically ran to the bookshop to see if they had The Ruby in the Smoke as I decided right there and then I was going to read everything that Mr Pullman’s ever written.
A quick catch up my good friends Dawn Geddes, who joined me for the Philip Pullman event and Sandra Ireland. Although a fleeting visit this time, we will catch up next week.
My third and final event was for Graeme Macrae Burnet author of The Accident of the A35.
Chaired by Roland Gulliver.
The two gents had a brilliant camaraderie from start to finish, it’s obvious they are friends and the laughter flowed throughout the event. Although not there to talk about His Bloody Project, it was obviously brought up and Mr Burnet said that people visit Culduie to see the where the murders would have been and are often flabbergasted to learn that the book is a work of fiction.
Mr Burnet also read from his submission for the Freedom Papers and not a conventional submission it added his unique take on freedom.
During the event, Mr Burnet mentioned that he has a daily routine, popping into Sainsbury’s on his way to the library to write and that he only ever purchases a ham a cheese sandwich. Well, one lady in the audience was rather shocked by this and at the question session at the end of the event proceeded to list everything that Mr Burnet should buy online to make his own bread and she wasn’t for stopping. But Mr Burnet gently stopped her by saying he was firmly dedicated to the sandwich he gets but thanks for the tip. It was a hilarious moment and the tent was filled with laughter.
My last engagement of the day was the Launch Party, held in the Spiegeltent. I was so happy that I bumped into author and friend Elizabeth Frattaroli. It was lovely to catch up over gin and laughter. Making interesting conversations with strangers and seeing friends. The band was brilliant, I don’t know who they were but I will find out.
As I ran to catch the last bus home, my head was filled with so many things, my heart was filled with bookish joy.
I love the Edinburgh International Book Festival and day one was such a high. I can’t believe I have so many other days just waiting for me to seize and explore.
Edinburgh International Book Festival 2018
HUGE thanks to the press team Frances, Rollo, Christine & Lisa. I am eternally grateful for the chance to review the events and for all your help.
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