Francesca Capaldi Burgess has just spent a couple of days at the Hay Festival.
I was going to call this post ‘Make Hay while the sun shines’, but unfortunately the sun was mixed with a good deal of wind and rain. Nevertheless, I spent an enjoyable Wednesday and Friday at Hay Festival.
On Wednesday, I went with my good friend Catherine Burrows, who like me has had short stories published and is now writing novels. We sat in on an interview with Victoria Hislop, author of The Island, talking about the whys and wherefores of her latest novel, The Sunrise, set in the deserted town of Famagusta in Cyprus. We then did a tour of the festival itself, mostly under huge marquees, before taking the shuttle bus (£1 return) into the town, which is full of new and second hand book shops – well worth a visit. We enjoyed our day but decided that next time (yes, we want to go again!) we’d book more talks, of which there were many on offer.
Onto Friday, and a very different day with my daughter-in-law and the three children. Apart from a full programme of entertainment, Hay has much to offer children in the shape of a ‘Mess’ Tent and a Make and Take Tent, where children can partake in various activities. Eleven-year-old Ben enjoyed attending a talk with Michael Morpurgo and a story telling session with Daniel Morden and Oliver Wilson-Dickson, while two-year-old Phynn was thrilled with the Peter Rabbit puppet show.
In the morning I attended a recording of the Radio 4 programme Front Row. The debate was ‘Do we publish too many books?’and covered, among other things, ebooks, diversity and how to engage young readers. You can listen to it here: Radio 4 Front Row debate at the Hay Festival
In the afternoon I attended a talk by YA author Meg Rosoff, a favourite of mine. She talked about how she gets ideas and her own writing process. She reckoned a writer could either pull a story along, like dragging a tyre on a beach to the destination they wanted, or follow it to see where it went, which she felt was the ideal method. She likes to write in thin layers, so that draft after draft she adds a new layer. She never thinks about an audience when she’s writing (which writers are usually advised to do) but asks herself a question and attempts to answer it. Meg was highly entertaining as well as informative and I’d certainly like to hear her talk again if I got the opportunity.
My daughter-in-law’s father went to see Marc Morris, an historian who’s new book looks at King John and whether he was the king we think he was. I’d love to have attended that too but it clashed with Meg Rosoff. Typical!
Along with some awesome and diverse eating places, there was, of course, the huge book tent. Signings were held in here (I couldn’t hang around long enough for Meg sadly), along with books already signed by attending authors.
All in all we enjoyed our trips out to Hay and agreed we’d definitely attend again next year.
You can still see the huge programme on offer at Hay HERE
Hay Festival general website HERE. There are ‘Hay’ Festivals all over the world at different times of the year.