Since I gave you a wee report last week, I have been at six more events as part of the Edinburgh Book Festival and the Edinburgh Book Fringe. My absolute highlight was getting to meet one of my very favourite authors, Patrick Gale, ahead of his event to talk about the wonderful Take Nothing With You. It was lovely to meet hia publicist who I ‘knew’ from Twitter, Georgina Moore from Headline/Tinder also known as @publicitybooks. She very kindly arranged for me to have my picture taken with Patrick Gale. As you can see, I was quite pleased! The event was excellent as Patrick Gale is an engaging and witty speaker, a joy to listen to for this fan anyway.
I was at the book launch for Claire Askew’s All The Hidden Truths which is a fabulous book. It was in Custom House in Leith which was a great venue and organised by Golden Hare Books. I got in the mood beforehand by having a Chinese from my local takeaway – the very one favoured by DCI Helen Birch, one of the main characters in the book!
I’ve also been to see Kit de Waal and Joanna Nadin talk about their books The Trick to Time and The Queen of Bloody Everything. I loved The Trick to Time, which is one of my favourite books this year. It was fascinating listening to how Kit de Waal researched the novel, talking to midwives who worked in the 1970s and bereaved mothers to make sure she was accurate in her portrayal of medical treatment at the time. She said that Youtube was a wonderful resource for authors and that you can find videos about almost anything there. She challenged us to find a video about drawing with vegetables but after a good search, I think that Youtube has failed to provide that particular tutorial! I haven’t read Joanna Nadin’s book but it sounds great. She spoke about her character Edie being the kind of exciting mother she wished she had had when she was young and how she had wanted the childhood she read about in books. She said her book was about identity and realising that you feel the same in your head when you are older as you did when you are young.
Greg Wise spoke about his book, Not That Kind of Love, written with his late sister Clare. She died from cancer but had been writing a blog documenting her illness and treatment. When she became too ill, Greg Wise carried on the blog while caring for her in the last few weeks of her life. It was a moving event but surprisingly also quite light-hearted.
I was really pleased to be able to hear Susan Calman talk about her book, Sunny Side Up. She spoke of finding joy and happiness in the little things of life and how important, though difficult, it is to be kind to yourself. She delighted the audience by talking about her time on Strictly Come Dancing and regaled us with stories about Kevin and some insider tips about taking part in the show. She even showed a few of her dance moves and explained how the costumes made going to the loo rather tricky! It was of course a very funny session but was also emotional as she spoke of how Strictly was a turning point for her and how grateful she was for all the kindnesses and joy in her life.
My final event was to hear Michael Malone and Stephanie Merritt talk about their latest books The House of Spines and While You Sleep. Both books have some similarities in that they feature spooky houses, flawed protagonists, unreliable narrators and apparently rather a lot of sex! Stephanie Merritt explained that as part of the research for her work in progress, she had to go to Paris. I’m sure we were all rather envious in the tent! Michael Malone spoke of being a voracious reader as a child and can clearly remember even then holding a book in his hands and thinking that one day he wanted to write.
If you are in Edinburgh this weekend, you still have a few days left to soak up the atmosphere, wander round the bookshop and see if you can spot any authors you recognise, before the festival ends on Monday. I’d like to thank Frances Sutton and the team in the press office for the opportunity to attend the events and for being so friendly and helpful throughout such a busy week.