The Edinburgh International Book Festival is always a lot of stressful fun for me. It’s enjoyable, but you’re there to work so it’s impossible to completely relax. I was in Edinburgh for three days this week, enjoying the sun (praise Jesus for deodorant), seeing the sights (there’s a KFC in Waverley Station), and most importantly – being a fabulous not drabulous author of punk rock lit for young adults.
My first event was Quirky Tales with Kirkland Ciccone, which took place early on Wednesday. My hair, lovingly structured, was brought down by a deadly alliance of hot muggy heat and hissing sheets of rain. So there I stood, at my bus stop, dressed in what I could only describe as a witch punk. My nails were long and sharp, so sharp the poor bus driver nearly got his wrist slashed when I handed over my cash so he’d take me to the train station. Poor man, he recoiled at the sight of those nails.
Once I arrived in Edinburgh, I made my way to Charlotte Square Gardens AKA my other living room. Once I arrived (and had a cup of tea) I was hooked up to a microphone and introduced to my chairperson, a lovely lady named Susan whose job was to introduce me and give the event structure. “Well,” I explained with a swish of my nails, “I think we should make it anarchic as possible. Just leave me to do what I do and with luck it won’t be rubbish.” She agreed (having read North of Porter and seen my ridiculous hat) that would be best. Ah, I thought, she gets it.
Both buses containing my audience were late due to a traffic accident. It freaked me out, I don’t mind admitting, because I worried for their safety. But it all went well. The show was really good and I got a nice queue of people buying my books. “My remote control slide changer,” I said politely, raising my hand. Susan placed it onto my palm and I told a story. Those damn nails though! Back in The Yurt (the VIP area for authors at the festival) I had – guess – more tea.
On Thursday night I was back in Edinburgh meeting some pals including Roy Gill (we always have a laugh), Victoria Gemmell (author of Follow Me), and Alex Nye. We saw Elizabeth Wein in The Yurt writing her new book. I attempted to sneak a peek, but she’s wise to my ways. I was in Edinburgh for the annual Teen Titles Party. For the benefit of those not in the know: Teen Titles is a glossy magazine dedicated to reviewing young fiction, the twist being that the reviewers are teenagers. Every year there’s a party to celebrate the continuing survival of the the magazine, and the reviewers come along and meet the authors. It sounds like a Morrissey album, doesn’t it? Anyway, I wore sequins again.
The librarians of Edinburgh are some of the best I’ve encountered. They’re passionate and determined, a bit like me when a new flavour of Pringles comes out. FAMOUS FACES: Theresa Breslin, fabulous as usual. Lari Don. Elizabeth Wein (amazing in quizzes). Cathy MacPhail. Helen Grant. And so many more. I’ve been on a fast from fizzy drinks, but one can of Irn-Bru had me bouncing off the walls. I signed tonnes of posters and in a hyperactive haze, went out into Edinburgh on the hunt for tea shops.
My final event took place yesterday at The Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre (Charlotte Square Garden) and it was Strange Tales With Kirkland Ciccone And Sharon Gosling. She’s the author of FIR, which is wonderful. Sharon can write anything and it’s never bad. We met up in The Yurt and I ate soup. I gave her a pair of sunglasses to wear, because I thought it would be TERRIBLY FUNNY for us both to arrive wearing sunglasses. This is the extent of my terrible humour. Over the course of an hour we chatted, kept the conversation flowing (our chairperson Ann was fabulous too) and took some questions at the end. When asked who wanted to answer first, I said: “You go first. I want to come across as humble.” Mortifying but totally accurate. It’s like the time I thought to myself in English, “I’d make a good Prime Minister,” only to realise I’d said it aloud. Argh.
The event was really fun and again there was a nice big queue in the bookshop. Hurrah!
NOTE: The staff of the Edinburgh Book Festival are the stuff of legend. Nothing is too much for them. They smile constantly, but not in an alarming way. They work hard and enjoy what they do. God I love them. If they ran their own book shop, it would be the best book shop ever.
On the way out from Charlotte Square I saw Keith Gray, author of Ostrich Boys. I gave him a wave (no long nails this time thank f**k) and off I went home. On the train I read some of Jeff Noon’s new book A Man Of Shadows. Jeff Noon, a genius, has recently returned and I’ve been obsessed with him for years since I read Vurt. He follows me on Twitter now, which is a surreal treat. A Man Of Shadows is probably the best book I’ve read in years, poetic and awe-inducing in equal measure. You don’t get many like Jeff Noon.
As for me? My new book is out early next year and it’s a good one. I can’t wait for you to see the cover art, read the synopsis, see me live and all that jazz.