Saturday, 25 April 2015

A weekend of talks

I don't know about you, but I love going to author talks.

Last weekend was the Cambridge Literary Festival -  a great chance to take a little break from writing (the third book of the Secrets of the Tombs book is keeping me pinned to my desk) and to be inspired by some fabulous authors.

On Friday evening I went along with a friend to see Mary Portas, who was very funny and talked movingly about her childhood. Saturday morning it was a real treat to see the wonderful Judith Kerr - author and illustrator of classics such as The Tiger who Came to Tea, Mog and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

Next came a lovely lunch with fellow writers and illustrators - all members of SCBWI.  What could be better than catching up with all our news over delicious food at a sunny window table?



And then Matt Haig, who talked about his latest book, Reasons to Live, an honest and ultimately uplifting account of his experiences of depression and anxiety.

On Sunday it was my turn.  I gave a talk all about the fun of writing about danger and peril. Chase scenes, stake-out scenes, falling-down-hole scenes and coming-face-to-face-with-wild-animals scenes - these are some of the best bits of being a mystery/adventure author.

No, I'm not sure what I was doing in this picture either!
But note how I've matched my outfit to the wall paint!
It was wonderful to see so many children and their parents there - some familiar faces and lots of lovely new readers. I really enjoyed talking to you and having a chat with everyone at the book signing.
This lovely picture was taken by Chris Borland of Distant Cloud Photography
That still wasn't the end of the author talks. I stayed on to see Chris Priestly, who talked about the appeal of creepy ghost stories and read us a rather chilling tale. He also made a great case for short stories for children. Given that young people are all expected to learn how to write short stories at school, why are so few short stories written for them? I hadn't thought of it before, but it's a very good question.

My last talk of the weekend was Louise Stern, who has written a beautiful novel set in a remote Mayan village where many of the inhabitants are deaf; in fact, so many that the hearing population use sign language too. As Louise Stern is deaf, she used American Sign Language and her words were spoken by her translator. There was also a British Sign Language interpreter for deaf members of the audience (American Sign Language and British Sign Language are different languages.) It was fascinating. It almost counted as work too, as Book Three is set in Mexico, so I'm always on the look out for any snippets of information about the Mayan world, both ancient and modern.

Thank you to all at Cambridge Literary Festival for putting on such a fabulously varied programme and for making me so welcome. I'm sure I ate more than my fair share of biscuits and crisps in the Green Room!