Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Hay


I thought I ought to talk a little more about my spot at the Hay Literary Festival.

As I have already mentioned this was my first time at the festival. It is one that I have wanted to do for a long time and was always very jealous of other authors who had been invited. Once I knew my date we decided to make a week of it, as it was half term, and book a cottage in Wales.

It was a bit exhausting to drive all the way back to Hay on the Sunday having driven all the way to Lampeter the day before, but it was worth it to have a cottage so near to the coast. The festival had booked me into the lovely George House for the night and all I had to do was find it! I arrived at the performer's car park to be told it was full and would I mind parking in front of the portaloos? Not the most auspicious of starts!

Luckily it transpired that there was actually parking right outside my lovely B&B. I say it was a B&B, but actually the owners only do this during the festival. It must be fascinating actually - to have a random stream of authors passing through their beautiful house. I had breakfast with Linda Grant and her sister Michelle, as well as Peter Conradi - and great company they were too. We had real laugh.

My event went well. I had a bit of a chance to have a wander round the town, resisting the temptation to buy secondhand books, before getting changed and walking the half mile or so up to the festival site. I was sure that I was going to get soaked, but the rain held off apart from a few drops.

My very attentive minder showed me to the green room (where, as with all such places, everyone in the room seemed to be famous apart from me) and after a glass of water we strolled over to the Starlight Stage where I was to do my gig. She walked ahead of me holding a long-stemmed rose. I think I'm going to insist on that everywhere I go.

The Starlight Stage was perfect for me. It can be a bit tricky reading spooky stuff in the middle of the day, but this tent had a dark blue canopy studded with tiny star-like bulbs and so the ambience was just right.

We had a good-sized crowd and I talked a bit about what I write, how I write and the funny route I've taken to become a writer. I talked a little bit about fear and phobias. One girl told me that her father was scared of buttons - he'd better not read Coraline! Then did a reading from The Dead of Winter and read Skating - the additional story in the rejacketed Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror.

There were some time for questions at the end and there were lots of them. It is always nice when lots of hands shoot up at the end, desperate to ask their question. They were a really supportive and enthusiastic bunch and I felt very welcome at Hay. As I was leaving my minder said, 'You're entitled to some wine,' and I almost refuse, imagining a glass of wine, but she reappeared with a case of Cava. Now that's what I call treating your performers well! She even offered to carry it for me back to my digs (it wasn't exactly light and I refused, of course).

And it didn't end there. I kept bumping into members of my audience as I walked around the town and everyone said very kind things. I was really touched.

All in all, a very enjoyable experience.

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