Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to two very different festivals, each with a very special feel. I've done a couple of the big numbers (Cheltenham and Edinburgh), but for me, small and mid-size festivals like these are far more charming.
The first was Taunton Literary Festival, run in a very friendly, relaxed fashion from Brendon Books, an impressive indie bookshop that mixes new and used books on the shelves with refreshing abandon. As the event was actually in the bookshop, I was expecting a tiny audience, but somehow organiser Lionel Ward managed to cram in a good 60 seats, all of which were filled by an appreciative audience. I've done my Reality Frame talk a few times, but never quite so intimately with my audience. I particularly enjoyed a moment when I was waiting to start, sitting on children's book table near the front. A lady on the end of the nearest row of seats asked me 'Have you come across this book?' enabling me to reply 'Erm, yes, I wrote it.'
|Science in my granny's sitting room at Folkestone|
On Friday I had two sessions with year five and six children (aged 9-11) - each with around 200 children packed into the theatre. They were impressively well behaved, seemed to enjoy the activities in the talk and could be relied on to come up with a whole host of questions after, from deeply serious ones about black holes to 'Which came first, the chicken or the egg?'
|Interview at Folkestone|
I'd certainly recommend Folkestone if you've never been there - there's a whole lot of art going on from the organisation also behind the Quarterhouse and the literary festival. The only festival I've attended before that did as much for its authors as Folkestone was the Isle of Man Festival - I don't know if it's something about being by the seaside, but both treated authors as someone special to pamper, rather than an irritating necessity as some of the larger festival seem to feel.
A really excellent week...