People may be quick to turn their noses up at famous erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey", but Alexander McCall Smith thinks the book's sky-high popularity is nothing to disapprove of. It may not be high-calibre literature, he says, but much of the money it's earning will find its way back into the publishing industry, benefiting promising new authors in years to come. There was a lot of impressed nodding in the audience when he made this point.
Val McDermid is known for her suspenseful and serious crime novels - but today saw her wandering Charlotte Square Gardens with a pirate's hat on her head and a stuffed parrot on her shoulder. She has officially dubbed herself "the Scottish Rod Hull".
Who do you think the most famous figures at the Book Festival are? There are a few to choose from. But I bet you're wrong. The most famous figures are in fact the rubber ducks, which bob around merrily in the puddles ifever the rains come a-callin'. And over the past few days I've heard at least ten people bemoan the beautiful weather and hope the skies open so that the Book Festival ducks can have a splash! Judging by the pitter-patter on the roofs of the tents, they may get their chance soon...
Writer Daniel Tammet spoke today about being an autistic savant and a lover of numbers, and shared that he taught himself empathy by using mathematics. Numbers are universal, and, by appreciating this, he found it easier to relate to those around him. He remembers, for instance, tears being shed when he recited pi. The power and beauty of numbers has proved to build bridges between strangers.
The love and admiration in the Main Theatre for Alexander McCall Smith today was such that it was as if each member of the audience knew him personally. (And, given his approachable demeanour, maybe they did.) His event had a musician, a guest reader, a great interview, and a poem to finish. (And you can still see him! In his event tomorrow at 6.30PM.)
The fellow sitting next to me was from Tasmania, and reads McCall Smith books in order to "stay in touch with the people of Edinburgh". And the lady in front of me had such genuine passion for Alexander McCall Smith that Sandy himself was stirred, and spontaneously gave her a signed book mid-event. She was a writer too... so, in fact, they swapped signed books. A strange and sweet little hand-over ceremony in the middle of one of the most enjoyable Book Festival hours so far.