On occasion, I’m called upon by forces high above to appear at festivals. I make money from live events (though you’ll never see me because I tour schools) and have done ever since Conjuring The Infinite was released. One of my favourite festivals is The Edinburgh International Book Festival. God, it makes me feel important. And so whenever the opportunity arises for me to make an appearance at Charlotte Square, I immediately nod my head up and down. This year I was offered a slot in the Schools Programme. Funnily enough, I’m writing my first novel for adults and making an attempt at leaving YA Fiction. It makes sense. The young audience that initially read my books back in 2013 (and onwards) have grown up and would probably buy adult fiction with my name on it. Does that seem sensible?
Claire Askew (an author/poet making waves in the adult crime fiction scene) asked me to take part in this year’s festival. And so I got myself ready for a day of being fabulous in the cause of fiction and getting young people to read, or at least be interested in reading. I decided that I wanted to serve old-fashioned gentleman realness, complete with a faux fur wrap. I couldn’t find the fur wrap online, so I decided to make it myself.
I got the yellow faux fur and blue satin from Mandors in Glasgow and set up my trusty sewing machine. After cutting and pinning the fabric, I made my fantasy faux fur wrap to go with my blue blazer and yellow/blue shirt!
I bought a nice bowler hat to complete the look and wore a good pair of Dr Martens to make me feel like me. Oh I could wear the weirdest crap (“If it’s ugly, it’s mine!”) so long as I’m wearing Dr Martens, because they literally keep me grounded in more ways than one.
On Tuesday I headed into Charlotte Square in Edinburgh. It was a lovely, bright day and i’m wearing layers. Luckily, I have deodorant. Eventually I make it to the Writers Yurt (the closest thing to a VIP area I’ve ever been in) and have a cup of tea. Then another. Then another. I like tea. The food served in The Yurt isn’t exactly Pret A Manger, that’s for sure. More Patisserie Valerie. I waited for Claire to arrive so we could catch up and I could hear what was going to happen. She was making ‘zines with the kids. I love it. Teach them punk! Share those ideals!
Dressed in all the colours of the rainbow, Claire arrived and did the decent thing: she headed for the snacks. That would be me too. That was me. Really, I could sit and eat happily in The Yurt. The event was being chaired by Claire and her two young assistants who came up with questions to ask. They did really well. Goodness, when I was that age it seemed impossible to do anything like that, if only because Cumbernauld wasn’t exactly brimming with opportunity. The idea of seeing an author live was unthinkable. And those two kids were in the Yurt talking about ‘the event’ as though they were planning a day trip to Butlins. Seriously, I was impressed.
The event itself was packed. I recognised a few people, including some librarians. I probably said too much, but I’m terrified of cold quiet still air. I’d rather fill it with noise. The students laughed a lot. I always appreciate that. The questions were good. No-one asked for my pin number, thank goodness.
Afterwards I headed to the main tent for a signing. Then it was over for another year.
The fabulous people at 404 Ink scored me a ticket for an event called A Tale Of Two Cities, which was packed. The rain hissed down but the tent endured. I ended up buying some books including Constitution Street by Jemma Neville. A heckler stood up during the event and was damn rude. The audience were not having any of it. “I’m an activist,” she screamed. It isn’t activism to interrupt an author, it’s just bloody rude.
I’m back in Edinburgh tomorrow night for the Teen Titles Party, an annual event hosted by the magazine for authors of YA fiction. I don’t know what I’m wearing but I’m thinking black and shapeless.
More tea and books.