edinburgh book festival 2011!

I thought I’d try to sum up the exciting whirlwind that was Edinburgh Book Festival in one picture. I started drawing this on the train ride home but was so overwhelmed, I fell sound asleep somewhere near Berwick-on-Tweed and work up twenty minutes outside of Kings Cross Station. So I inked it at breakfast this morning.

The highlights of the festival were getting to hang out with the fab people from my publishing houses, having morning coffee with Australian writer/illustrator/animator Shaun Tan, getting to meet writer/composer/performer Kjartan Poskitt, whom you might know as the writer of the Murderous Maths series and who is such a good laugh. Here we are in front of the Authors’ Yurt:

Go out and get his book Agatha Parrot and the Floating Head, the narrator is a fabulously cheeky girl (based very much on his own experiences with his four cheeky daughters) and the illustrations by David Tazzyman are just as funny. If you like Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum books (also illustrated by David) and Lauren Child’s Clarice Bean books (and even if you don’t!), you’ll love Agatha Parrot.

I first heard about Kjartan from Philip Reeve, who used to illustrate Murderous Maths before Rob Davis (my Nelson comics anthology editor) took over. (Philip and his family visited us last week and you can read about it over on Philip’s blog here.)

The people-watching in the yurt is top-notch. Here’s Kjartan with writer Vivian French. (Oops, I’m not supposed to take photos in the yurt.):

I did snap a few shots, though… here are sine yummy haggis, neeps and tatties at the buffet.

If you don’t like haggis, there’s always the cupcake option.

Fab ladies! My agent Jodie Marsh and Scholastic publicist Catherine Alport:

Here’s Elaine McQuade, who used to be the big boss at Scholastic and made me feel incredibly looked after by taking me for lunch right at the beginning of my work with them. She left Scholastic and I was sad, but then she popped back up at Oxford University Press and she’s head of my publicity there Hurrah! Elaine rocks. And I’m getting into this big hat thing.

Here are two of my marvellous Schools Programme workshop assistants, Heather and Catriona (who, rather bizarrely, had been in China at exactly the same time as I had, a few weeks ago). I had to be careful not to inflate that die late at night in my hotel room for fear of what the people in the next room might think. And I did get a few odd looks while carrying it from my hotel to the festival.

The kids and I made up new adventure board games (like the game I made for When Titus Took the Train).

On the second day of events, the kids helped me invent a character to star in our board game. This one wears a gas mask, holds a terrified pet pig and has broccoli hair.

I had a lovely dinner with the Scholastic gang, including Kjartan, writer Chae Strathie, Horrible Science illustrator Tony De Saulles and novelist Fiona Foden (author of Life, Death and Gold Leather Trousers). Here are Chae, Tony and Tony’s wife in the Speigeltent.

At dinner, I got Tony to draw me a picture, then we discussed effective ways to show people vomiting, which is always good meal-time conversation.

I also got to see a bit of stand-up comedy, Boyd & Metcalfe at the Royal Mile Tavern. I know Nathanial Metcalfe from Gosh! Comics shop, where he works, and he and Chris Boyd put on a great show together. Do pop over and see them if you’re in Edinburgh!

Chris and Nat, looking very calm and collected before their performance:

I met up to see the comedy with Joe Gordon, who runs the Forbidden Planet International comics shop and the amazing comics blog of the same name. Great to hang out with a local, and thanks for a fab evening, Joe, Chris and Nat!

This picture came out kind of blurry, but here’s the remarkable Nikki Gamble of Write Away website database and the Just Imagine story centre in Essex, who not only is a lovely friend, but has pretty much been my most helpful contact in children’s books. She knows everyone!

Here’s the fabulous stairwell I came down for two mornings to breakfast. I love staying in hotels.

A big thank you to Janet Smyth, the new Children & Education Programme Director, my fabulous assistants and everyone who worked very hard to make this festival so brilliant!

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