In which I nearly miss the most exciting event of my writing life.
Last year I was invited to take part in Edinburgh International Book Festival. I was very over excited – it was my first major event as a published author and I had a hard job believing I was actual there….
In my actual life.
Jo Cotterill held my hand and we put on a pretty good show. We laughed a lot. AND THEN…
Thanks to a huge number of wonderful voters, who I will forever be indebted to, More of Me became the very first YA novel ever to win the Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award. Roll on a year…and EIBF invited me back!
You’d think I’d have calmed down a bit after a year wouldn’t you? Well…non. I was even more excited because I knew how much fun I was going to have. I had two events planned, and it was my turn to hold the hand of a new girl – a real honour that was too because I loved Penny Joelson’s unusual debut, I Have No Secrets. But firstly…firstly I was on a panel discussing gender in books and toys, hosted by South East Scotland SCWBI co-ordinators Sarah Broadley and Anita Gallo. And on the panel with me….
JONATHAN STROUD AND DAVID LEVITHAN.
I nearly wee’d myself when I found out.
I am so not cool, but it’s true.
The big day arrived – I had a comfortable six hours between arriving in Scotland and going on stage. So comfortable I planned to see Tanya Landman and Laura Dockrill’s event before my own. I arrived at the airport super early, paranoid, as ever, about being late, and checked in my bag (too big for the cabin because it’s full of ridiculous petticoats) – then I settled down with a cup of tea and my laptop and wondered if it’s okay to take a picture of the large number of armed police eating cake in Costa.
I wrote a bit, tweeted a bit and then looked up at the departures board. I blinked. I couldn’t be reading the board right. My flight was delayed by three hours. THREE HOURS. I hurried to the harassed looking woman on the desk – could I get on a different flight? No – because I’d checked in a bag.
Oh My Actual….AAAARGH!!!!
Three hours. I had no choice, I had to calm down and wait- it still left me a cushion of three hours. We’d be boarding at 2.55. It would be fine. I rang the wonderful Roxburghe Hotel where the fabulous James organised a meet and greet taxi for me. I let the festival know I was running late but I would be there. I repeated, it would be fine. Fine. 2.55 came….and went. With no further information at all. The tiny airport was crammed with people from other delayed flights. I returned to the harassed airport staff to ask what was happening with my flight. The woman looked at me like I’d spat in her tea and said,
“It’s been delayed.”
“I know that, but can you give me any idea when it will be taking off, I have a really important event I need to get to.”
“No. I can’t.”
“Just roughly? Please? I need to let people know if I’m not going to make it.”
I was nearly crying by this point, and trying very hard to keep my cool. She poked a few buttons other computer –
“There’s been an electrical storm, the plane has diverted, it should be here in the next 30 minutes.”
That had to do, I sat down and waited. And waited. Half an hour came and
My plane eventually arrived and so did I, in Edinburgh, with 5 minutes to spare.
I threw on my frock and raced across the road to the festival. I’d missed Tanya and Laura’s event, I had no time to curl my hair or iron my dress but I’d made it. The event had sold out, the audience were fantastic, the night was one of the high points of my author life – to think I could have missed it…
Edinburgh Book Festival lived up to it’s reputation in my heart for being a little corner of book heaven. I met up with pals, both writers and not writers; hugged the wonderful Book Witch ( if you don’t follow her blog – you should, it’s brill); had breakfast with Juno Dawson, opposite Eddie Redmayne’s gorgeous little girl (and her Mum and Dad, also gorgeous); I met readers.
The festival sold out of my books; I spent more than I should on other people’s books; I fan-girled a bit (a lot); I went to a drop in workshop run by Jonathan Stroud where Christopher Edge and I invented a brilliant game of Snakes and Ladders called:
How to Make It Big in Books.
(Rights still available)
And finally, I had my picture taken by the amazing Chris Close.
Genuinely, there is no happier place for a writer and a reader than Edinburgh International Book Festival. If I don’t get invited as a writer next year, I’ll be going as a reader 🙂
Kathryn Evans is the author of More of Me, winner of the 2016 Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award, nominated for the Carnegie medal and winner of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2017