The last time Adam Thorpe was in the Spiegeltent he was doing an event with Hilary Mantel (left), who was writing 'Wolf Hall' at the time. Adam asked her what she was working on, and she said it was a novel about Thomas Cromwell. “Oh”, Adam remembers saying sarcastically; “that'll go down well”.
The rest is history.
Given that Charlotte Square Gardens is slap bang in the middle of Scotland's capital city (which, in turn, is slap bang in the middle of festival season), noise from the outside world sometimes slips into the ambiance of the theatres. But this has always been dealt with to great effect in the events I've been to. Danny Wallace said of the rainstorm - “I have angered Thor”. Adam Thorpe said of the sirens - “I specifically asked for these sound effects”. When a plane flew very low over the Gardens, Stuart Kelly remarked - “you'll always remember you were at the Book Festival the day war broke out”. And, the other day, when a group of girls were heard squealing outside the Main Theatre, an audience member leaned over and said to me “crikey, you'd think Jacqueline Wilson was out there or something”. Sure enough, when I went outside, there was Jacqueline Wilson herself, talking animatedly to a group of eager fans. What a lucky guess.
Claire Kilroy's gothic novel, 'The Devil I Know', was not supposed to be gothic. But while she was writing it, the Irish economic situation was dominating the news, which she heard through the radio. “ATMs will freeze, hospitals will close. Go buy some tin peaches because it might be the last meal you have in a while”. And, before she knew it, her writing was reflecting that looming asperity.
Each day at the Book Festival has been jam-packed with authors performing readings of their work, be them funny, moving, haunting, inspiring, or all of the above. But next time you hear a reading, make sure you bring the original text along... because Karen Campbell has confessed to occasionally self-editing as she reads out her work to an audience! I wonder if any other Book Festival authors do this. Let's keep a very sharp eye out. And if you catch someone doing it, heckle! Loudly.
(I said don't!)