May 30th, 2014

hay festival 2014: doing our best diva impressions

Look! I have come up in the world; I now have a Inflatable Shark Blower-Upper! :D

Now here's the thing about the Hay Festival: it's a public collection of people who usually come up with their ideas for books while sitting alone in their houses or studios, very often in their pyjamas. And suddenly, they're taken to rural Wales and thrust onto stages in front of hundreds of people to entertain the audience for an hour. ...WHOAAAA. (Hang on, this wasn't mentioned in the book contract!)

Ad man Robin Wight and his wife, lighting up the Green Room

And here's the other thing: festival organisers don't want their writers/illustrators/musicians/poets/actors/translators/etc to come to the festival and hide their talents (as is natural to most Brits), they want them to be BIG! FASCINATING! FAMOUS! ...or at least, as much of these things as they can possibly muster.

It's a bit like school visits, when kids ask me, 'Are you famous?' The first couple times they posed the question, I flapped my hands about and said, 'Oh no, not very, not at all, really...' and the kids' faces fell; they lost a bit of interest in me. That's when I realised it was MY JOB to be famous, at least to those kids, right then. Make their eyes go big. Doing any less than that was letting them down.

Photo by Clara Molden for The Telegraph. See more Telegraph Hay photos here.

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