I spent the last two weekends at the Cheltenham Literature Festival – it was the first time I’d attended the festival or indeed been to Cheltenham, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I’ve written a blog post for Help For Writers, based on one of the events I attended, in which I’ve focused on ‘top tips’ for writing for children. I’m planning more blog posts over at Help For Writers about my experiences at the festival, so watch this space!
Cheltenham has lots of horse chestnut trees, and at this time of the year the pavements are thick with conker mulch. Conkers are a great metaphor for my book ideas – seductively beautiful and shiny straight out of the shell, but a few hours later they look dry and wrinkled… That, my friends, is why I’ve never written a novel.
One of my favourite events was ‘Come to the Cabaret’, featuring singer Mary Carewe and pianist Philip Mayer. As well as performing for us, Mary imparted plenty of information about the Berlin cabaret scene during the interwar period, and I left feeling as though I’d learned something. Not to mention the gorgeous food!
On the literary scene, my biggest fangirl moment was meeting Simon Armitage and getting a copy of his book, Walking Away, signed by him. I loved his dry sense of humour as he talked about his journey along the South West Coast Path.
Barrington Stoke’s event, ‘Removing the Barriers to Reading’, was an eye-opener, particularly if you have a child in your life who doesn’t enjoy reading or who isn’t particularly good at it – whether that’s because of dyslexia, other medical issues or simply that it’s not their thing.
I also had the pleasure of seeing and listening to Martha Lane Fox, John Torode (of Masterchef fame), and Alexander McCall Smith. I also thoroughly enjoyed readings by debut novelists Claire Fuller and Sarah Leipciger.
More posts about the festival to come; there’s just too much to write about all at once! You can also read something of a blow-by-blow account over at the Help For Writers Twitter feed.
On a personal note, my journey down for the second weekend of the festival was quite eventful. On the train my reserved seat was next to a man who had fallen asleep over his can of lager; it turned out he’d missed his stop (sorry I didn’t wake you up!), and on the way to the hotel I narrowly missed witnessing a nasty-looking moped accident (I hope it was ‘only’ a broken arm and nothing worse). My life is normally pretty mundane so this was all quite a drama!