Book Festival Highlights
From the moment I got out my bed yesterday morning I was held in a mode of excitement. I knew that at 12 noon the Edinburgh Book Festival
was being launched, an event that not only shapes my writing year, but shapes me as a writer. I was very excited.
There was also the other side of the coin: who will be coming to the festival? Any names I simply MUST see? What will the theme be? Will there be any exciting new activities or events and will it continue to move forward in a dynamic and progressive way?
12 o’clock came and I slipped onto the website during my lunch break. The website was slow as you would expect, as all the information we’d wait for became live and bookie types logged on for their first look. I only had time to run through the names of authors appearing and a quick scan of the downloadable programme, but from what I saw there is much to look forward to.
The theme of this year’s Book Festival programme is to explore the central theme of Revolution in the 21st Century. Nick Barley, Director of the Book Festival said “In this, the year that the new Europe comes of age, popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East are challenging life long regimes and the world is in a state of change, we will examine the theme of Revolution. From Libya to China, India to Iran, the USA ten years after 9/11 and the recent controversies involving Twitter and Wikileaks, audiences and authors in Charlotte Square Gardens will explore the power of the written word to provide a compelling commentary on the world around us.”
As well as the usual faces there is a return of some older ones and some fascinating people coming for the first time. The names that jumped out at me immediately as must-sees are Alasdair Gray, Simon Hoggart, Tony Black, Kevin Barry, Sara Sheridan, Caitlin Moran, Stuart MacBride and the return of Val McDermid. I was delighted to see William McIlvanney will be attending, as well as Pauline Black (of Selecter fame) and the brilliant poet, Don Paterson. Top of my non-fiction list though, is Stella Rimington and Michael Scheuer, ex head of MI5 and the CIA unit responsible for hunting Bin Laden. And of course, the uniqueness of Alexei Sayle and Ryan Van Winkle.
It seems that there has been someone at Charlotte Square listening to the criticisms from writers about the range and quality of workshops on offer. Things have changed this year as there are several full-day workshops on offer, one I noticed from the Arvon Foundation, that I have to seriously look at getting into. I’m not sure if they’ve totally scrapped the 1-hour briefings that constituted a workshop, but these new additions are a breath of fresh air into the writers’ programme of events.
There are many, many more authors, poets and events that I just haven’t had time to digest, which I will need to do before I start planning out my August. I’ll do that with the actual programme in my hand—much easier to scribble on the thing while I’m doing it.
The Guardian (which is the new sponsor of the festival) does a neat review of the launch highlights, although they’ve got a few names wrong in my opinion. And they also spoke to Ian Rankin about the beauty of the festival and what makes it so special – he should know, he’s being going in one capacity or another since 1985. You can read Ian Rankin’s interview here.
Silly Poems Vol.3
I received some new illustrations from my artist working on SILLY POEMS VOL.3. We’re building on what we have already for ideas and the style is developing out into something in the middle. Kamila has a good eye for capturing the fun and innocence in my children’s poetry, so seeing the final result is a day I look forward to greatly. I wish I could post some here but you’ll just have to wait for the book to come out.
I worked hard again on GATECRASH in the evening. The plot has gotten quite complicated but my trusted whiteboard is proving to be invaluable in tracking where I am and the characters’ relationships. I don’t know what I’d do without it actually. Somehow it makes it clearer to see a novel when standing on your feet looking at it in graphical form on a wall.
My Friday Vid this week comes from Paul Zerdin, a ventriloquist at Comedy Rocks With Jason Manford. I’m not usually into ventriloquists but this is a human one and absolutely hilarious! Enjoy… and if you can’t see it, click here.
Have a great Friday y’all, peace out!