If my EdBookFest diary entries seem a little lacklustre, then I should point out that during these first few days of the festival I’m not scheduled to be at many events. From Thursday (Day #6) the activity really ramps up for me, so entries should be a little beefier from then on. And why no EdBookFest Diary Day #2, Rob? Well, because I wasn’t actually in at all yesterday (Sunday). The day however went well, according to Ellie over at the official Edinburgh Book Festival blog.
Short story love from a novelist’s perspective
So Day #3, and I was only at Charlotte Square for one event today – a 10:15 in the Spiegeltent with Tessa Hadley and Sarah Hall. Although both authors are better known for their novels, both were at EdbookFest this morning to talk about short stories. Sarah Hall’s latest collection, The Beautiful Indifference (Faber & Faber) was not only named as the winner of the 2012 Edge Hill Short Story Prize, but it was also shortlisted for this year’s Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Tessa Hadley’s collection, Married Love also made the shortlist for this year’s Edge Hill Short Story Prize. It’s safe to say then, that both writers know a thing or two about penning short fiction.
As for the event itself I’ll write up a longer report, but I will say for now that much love was shown for the short story form during this event. Both writers concluded that it was the perfect form for today’s busy lifestyle, but they also acknowledged the fact that story collections are still difficult to sell in this country. Why? Well, Tessa Hadley for one concluded that short story reading is strenuous. No sooner does one start a short story before it’s finished, and then one has to go and learn a whole new set of characters for the next one. A lot of readers can’t be bothered with this, hence the short story collection’s unpopularity, when compared to novels. I can see Tessa’s point, but personally I think the rewards gained from reading short fiction far outweighs any effort needed to read them. But then again, I’m a little bias about this .
Anyway, Sarah and Tessa’s event was a good one. It was mainly positive and upbeat, and very much in favour of short fiction, albeit from the perspective of two novelists at heart. A lot come out of this event, and as I said I’ll share it in a separate report.
Andy Stanton should be honoured with a knighthood
You’ll be disappointed to hear (maybe) that that was about it for me on Day 3 of EdBookFest. I did spend a couple of hours ‘scooting aboot’ as we say in Scotland, even though the weather was a bit grey and dull (quite a contrast from the weekend). I spied children’s author Andy Stanton post-event, busy signing away for his legions of fans. By my reckoning he was at it for at least 2 hours, while all the time engaging fully with all who stepped up to the table. You see my photo of him with the two girls, below? Well, he had the little girl on the right giggling like a mad thing, and he pretty much had the same reaction from the rest of the children. Give this man a knighthood I say, he’s one of those beautiful people who makes children love books.
Artist at work
I also had the pleasure of watching children’s illustrator Chris Riddell, who had just plonked himself down in the middle of the festival village to draw characters from Alienology. Don’t you just hate these geniuses who are able to outpour their talent on the spur of the moment? The guy’s brilliant, and the ever expanding crowd thought so too.
The aura that surrounds a rising star
Sitting on the grass at one point, being interviewed by Asian journalists (I’m guessing South Koreans), was South Korean-born writer Krys Lee, who’s being hailed as one of the rising stars of American literature. Somehow her event with fellow American Nell Freudenberger had passed me by. I had no idea Lee was at the festival, and that she was talking about her short story collection, Drifting House (Faber & Faber). When I found out that I was missing out on this event I was somewhat downcast, and even more so when I saw Lee ‘in the flesh’. She very much has the look and presence of someone who’s destined for great things.
Well, that was about it for me today. As I was leaving there was a bit of a police presence building up because Gordon Brown was arriving on site, to appear as guest speaker in this year’s Donald Dewar lecture. And I also just missed another important famous face – the great Michael Palin. It seems that writer Kirsty Logan (who I also met for the first time in person today – another highlight) didn’t miss him though, as her earlier tweet would suggest .
Tomorrow it’s another single event day for me – Ned Beauman & Nick Harkaway in the Spiegeltent at 10:15, again, so expect another brief diary entry (unless something extra mega happens, of course ). See you tomorrow.