Before I get stuck into yesterday’s goings on at the Edinburgh Book Festival, I want to say a humongous thanks to everyone who has emailed and tweeted me to express their enjoyment of my book festival blogging and tweeting. It’s an unexpected but deliriously welcome compliment.
And now here comes the plug: If you want even more of my wit and humour then you will definitely enjoy FRINGE FANTASTIC and POOLSIDE POETRY, my two top selling chapbooks of poetry that will leave you contemplating life one moment then wetting yourself the next. They are so good it’s almost as though someone else wrote them!
Okay then. So I seem to have packed out my schedule so much for this year’s book festival I’m actually struggling to find time to wind down or get anything else done. On one hand there’s my day job (that can be stressful enough) but every spare moment other than that seems to have been spent in Charlotte Square, either at events or meeting up with people. I’ve yet to single out any blocks of decent reading or writing time, and now that I’m almost through the first midweek period I’m starting to feel a touch run down; a cold is developing, I have a growing irritation on my throat and I need a damn good kip. Bookfest Burnout is coming towards me.
Last night when I turned the light out my head was so busy I was unable to nod off. My skull was tense, by head buzzed as though a swarm of bees were angry inside it, and I could hear every pulse of blood as it pumped through the veins behind my ear drums. Nightmare.
The big news of the day, though, was the death of Scotland’s Makar, Edwin Morgan. He was our National Poet and a treasure at that. I found out on Twitter (didn’t everyone?) and the news swept the nation before the media even had a chance to update their websites. Lin Anderson and Ian Rankin were later to discuss the speed at which the news spread. He was 90 years old and will be hugely missed; his shoes will remain empty evermore.
I’d been persuaded earlier in the day that a live Tweeting stream from Ian Rankin’s event would be a good idea. Indeed, the man himself seemed to accept it would be inevitable and if you ask me, he practically encouraged it. So I took a seat near the back corner and settled down with my jacket covering my mobile and waited for the event to begin.
The RBS tent was, as you would expect, packed out. Rankin was on top form: funny, witty, honest and thankfully in a big news sharing mood. He started off with a heartfelt tribute to Edwin Morgan before settling down to questions from the Chair, Lin Anderson, a Glasgow crime writer. Of the more exciting things Rankin had to say, he feels he has “unfinished business with Rebus” after he wrote a short story about him recently for a national newspaper, his Justified Sinner project is now in a workable film format and ready to move forward, the rights to the The Complaints has been sold to the BBC, and the Doors Open rights have been purchased by none other than Stephen Fry.
There were some memorable quotes to: “Novelists are lazy—readers do all the work” and “We, as fiction writers, can make you, the reader, believe anything we want.”
Of Twitter he admitted he tends to use it as a daily diary these days and regards it much like a “little God of information”. He has no plans to publish his tweets in a book, though he would like them all to be burned after his death. Of crime writing he feels it has never been in a healthier state in this country, and with that in mind he will be starting a new Complaints (probably) novel in October for a June 2011 release. It will definitely not be a Rebus book, though.
If you want to read through the tweets from last night’s Ian Rankin event, or to follow me for more of the same as the book festival goes on, click here: @colingalbraith
After a lazy coffee in the square I headed into the Scottish Power tent to see Candia McWilliam. Candia, if you remember, is the author I saw on the final day last year who had just had a tough operation to regain a certain amount of her sight after she was overcome with blindness, and who on Sunday evening at the Carol Ann Duffy event, sat down next to me and we had a chat about Edinburgh and books.
She read from her new book, What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness, two passages. One was a hilarious account of when she visited a Shamen in Portobello, the other on a visit to a physical therapist. Candia’s prose when read aloud is a beautiful experience, and when turned on herself—the self-deprecating humour, the cutting observational wit and her ability to poke fun at any situation on the spin of a coin—one can easily see what a remarkable human being she is as well as an exceptional writer.
All of the questions she was asked by the audience revolved around her health and blindness, which seemed to irk her at one point but it did occur to me that she was promoting a book that concerned that precise subject. However, when asked about this, she said: “this book is more about writing—actually, to be blunt, it’s about writing and death,” said with a warmth that left us all wanting to give her a big hug.
When I got home in the evening the spikes in my blog stats and activity that had been going on via Tweetdeck was quite scary. Thanks to all who followed on Twitter last night—my thumb is aching now so I might have to give it a day off!