I was thrilled to be invited by my publishers at Templar to give a workshop at this year's Edinburgh Book Festival 2017. I won't pretend I wasn't a little nervous leading up to the event as I was! In fact, it consumed much of my summer as I spent time wondering what I could do with thirty 3-6 year olds that I'd not met before! My poor partner and daughter have heard me speak of nothing else and have been a marvellous audience for me in the living room whilst I tried out various approaches! (whilst giving my daughter various ice lollies to help bribe her to sit for just a few more minutes!) Her advice was "Don't be boring!" which made me laugh!
I arrived in Edinburgh the afternoon before my event so I would be prepared, find the venue and look around. Edinburgh was so vibrant and lively in contrast to quiet Kingsbridge where I live. It was buzzing with energy and I loved being somewhere different for a few days.
I stayed in the most fabulous hotel called Eden Locke which I would definitely stay in again. (They also have one in London) I loved the simple Scandi calm style, green ethos and hospitality.
I ventured into the author's yurt during my first evening and introduced myself to two feminist authors Nadine Aisha Jassat and Joelle A. Owusu.Both had written essays that were chosen to be included in the new 'Nasty Women' book, which was fundraised on Kickstarter and is published by 404ink. I really enjoyed chatting to them about the event they'd both taken part in, their lives and the new book. It made my day as they were both so incredibly inspiring to talk with. I was lucky enough to buy a signed copy of the book which I'm keen to read soon.
Zadie Smith ventured into the yurt whilst we were talking and the three of us were a bit star struck. Her event was sold out - it would have been amazing to have heard her.
My event took place in the Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab on Sunday afternoon. The whole book festival is run like a tight ship and I was given set times to enter the venue, get set up and test my microphone.
Thirty children and their parents came into the room - the children sat on round cushions on the floor and the parents sat on chairs behind them. It was so lovely to see all the smiley children looking up at me attentively. They were all very keen to help me draw patterns on my flip chart and give large smiles to the various patterned toys I had on stage.I enjoyed reading them my latest book 'Things That Go' before they gathered around a few tables to decorate and add patterns to some Panda and Bear masks I'd screen printed for them. I think the youngest child was two years old and the eldest was six. It was super seeing how creative they all were and how influenced they'd been from showing them my patterned illustratons.
Towards the end of my event the parents were invited to ask me some questions on my life and career. It was also lovely to meet some of them that have been following me and my career for some time now.
I was happy with how my workshop went and I felt a small sense of achievement when I'd finished. I signed some books and chatted to some of the children and parents, which was lovely as I rarely get to meet the children that like my books.
I hope to take my daughter to the book Festival next year as she'd love to meet her favourite authors and illustrators.
*Thank you to Jess for taking photos for me using my iPhone!