Sunday, 31 May 2009

Hay Festival

I haven't blogged for a while. Not because I've had nothing to blog about, more because blogging is a bit like keeping New Year's Resolutions - I'll start tomorrow. Also, this is my third attempt (and counting) at getting this up on the website. Anyway, this is a pic of me holding forth at Hay. I was on a panel with Sally Gardner, chaired by Julia Eccleshare, Children's Fiction Editor for The Guardian, discussing the French Revolution (note the tricolor rosette I bought in a costume shop near the Opera in Paris). We were talking about my novel, Sovay, and Sally's novel The Silver Blade, the sequel to The Red Necklace. It always interests me that two writers can choose the same time and the same place almost exactly, two of our characters would have been in the same prison on the same day, but will end up writing something completely different. Sally's novel is on this year's Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Longlist. I was one of the judges and it deserves its place. One never knows how many people will turn up, so it was a relief to see that the tent so full (maybe some of your were there, if so, let me know!). Afterwards, we signed lots of books and were all very happy that it went so well.

I'm always thrilled to be invited to go to Hay. It is such a great festival, full of people who love books and reading. I first went in 1990, as a wannerbe writer, never dreaming (OK dreaming) that one day I'd be there on the platform. If I'm at Hay, I always try to go and see other writers. Just like all the other readers there, I'm interested in what they have to say about their books, and I'm a big believer that writers can learn from each other. This year I went to see Patrick Ness, one of my fellow Guardian Judges, talking about his books, The Knife of Never Letting Go, and the new one, The Ask and The Answer. I'm not a big fan of dystopian novels, unless they are very good, and his are very good. He's an exciting writer, not afraid to do something very different. I thoroughly enjoyed his session, and meeting him on the judging panel. It is easy to get complacent about one's own writing and he's a reminder not to do that. I went back to Hay on Saturday, especially to see Sarah Waters. I am a huge fan of her historical novels and had to go and see her speaking. I also bought her new book, The Little Stranger, and she was gracious enough to sign it for me in the Green Room before she went on stage.

The Festival is over now, soon the site will be just a muddy field. Time to get back to my current book (more about that in the next blog). The book is not even finished yet, but if I'm there next year that is the one I'll be talking about, so I'd better get on with it!

1 comment:

bookwitch said...

I'm glad you made the comparison, Celia. At one point I thought I was going mad trying to keep people and rolling heads apart, and felt I wasn't trying hard enough.