One of the marvellous things about being invited to a book festival is meeting the organisers behind it.
Usually there is a small committee of dedicated individuals who come together as a team to bring books to young readers. Often there is a chairperson who helps keep everything flowing in one direction. Quite a tricky task when you think of the logistics.
Folk organising Book Festivals manage to be in ten places at once, all the while never once complaining (in earshot), always smiling (in, er, eyeshot). This is quite an achievement. They also have the herculean task of remembering everyone’s names. Or correctly typing out millions of Name Badges. They must ensure we writerly types get to where we are meant to be. Plus keep us fed and watered, calm and focussed.
Some authors can be terrified of the whole ‘standing up in public’ thing, being introverts who’d rather hide behind words or the organiser.
Occasionally, one or two authors can be grumpy ‘Do I really have do this?’ types. Known to grumble when asked to sign old copies of books that young fans bring in. They reluctantly read out a few sections from their books. Wearily answer ‘the same old questions‘, then scarper to the Green Room to eat all of the chocolate digestives.
The majority of authors get a buzz from interacting onstage with kids. By the end of each session, we are glowing with pride at a job well done. Whether performing in front of four kids or four hundred, we give it our all. Then collapse in a corner…and sign books. Then collapse in another corner.
I am blown away by the energy and enthusiasm that Book Festival volunteers bring to each Book Festival.
When organisers gather together the right mix of authors, illustrators, poets, storytellers, etc., they help generate a fabulous sense of ‘bookfestivalness’ – if that’s a word. (If it isn’t, it should be!)
Organisers lay the groundwork for this magic to happen. Which is why I thought I’d write a few words & say a big