Quick note: If you are in Stornoway on Halloween, I'm giving a talk at the Faclan book festival. If you could come along, I'd love to see you.
Last weekend I was really pleased to be doing a drop in session at the Wigtown Book Festival in Dumfries and Galloway. It was a hands-on session as part of the Childrens' Book festival, and was a bit different from previous talks I'd done, so I was really looking forward to it.
It was an early start, though ! I had to get up at 6am and leave at around 7am. Dad drove for two and a half hours to get to Wigtown, and we arrived at around 9:45am. Wigtown is a pretty small town, but for one week every year it turns into one of the most exciting book festivals in Scotland.
The night before I'd packed a good selection of my bones, and they were ready to be loaded into the car:
Ready for business !
1. Wigtown is a brilliant town
Wigtown has a really nice feel to it, it's quite a small place but it has a great atmosphere, especially the bookshop in the centre (where this skeleton was). The writers room was in the owners living room above the bookshop, where I popped in a couple of times to get a snack.
2. Children all love a dinosaur
When the children came to the shed, one of the first things I asked them was their favourite animal. Most said T-rex and other dinosaurs, and one or two pointed at the cow skull, wondering if it was a dinosaur. I can see what they mean; it's quite a big skull and its got big teeth and eyes. I had to tell them that their aren't many dinosaurs in Scotland.
3. Adults are as much interested as children
It wasn't just adults that were interesting in my collection. Even though more children came the adults, most parents and helpers came in to ask about the various bones I had brought. There was also the artist Shoo Rayner who was sketching everyone at the festival, and I was chatting to him as he was drawing and painting me.
4. Drop-in sessions are great
When I give talks, I don't get much of a chance to talk to audience, except if I'm doing a book signing after, but with drop ins, I get a chance to chat and get to know a bit about everyone that comes in. Everyone had at least one interesting question, and they all went away knowing a bit more about bones, which was the main thing. Also, I brought along more bones that I ever had tbrought to any of my previous talks, and I got the chance to show off every one.
5. Drop in sessions are more tiring than talks
I've given loads of talks before, like the one in Bath last October and the most recent one in Gravesend. Even though they take more preparation, they are over in around 45 minutes, whereas this drop-in session lasted five hours and there was a lot more people to talk to. It was a great day, but I was glad to have an early night once I got home !
Thanks again to everyone who came, and thanks to the Wigtown Book festival for inviting me !
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