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oxford literary festival

So Sunday was a fabulous day because I got to hang out at the Oxford Literary Festival with two fab friends Candy Gourlay and Philip Reeve, who had an event the same day as mine. Philip and I are bookending Candy here to illustrate the theme of her novel, Tall Story.

Making things even more fun, it all took place at a super-cool venue, the Great Hall in Christ Church college (which you may recognise as the Hogwarts dining hall in the Harry Potter films). I was appalled to discover that Philip had only just been let out of prison that morning, but he kept his ankle tag well hidden. (Shocking whom they allow into the festival Green Room these days.)

You can take a panoramic virtual tour of Christ Church here if you're curious. (Here's a peek at the actual room.) My event wasn't until late afternoon, but I caught an early train to go hear Candy and Philip give a talk with the writer Lauren St John and Blue Peter presenter Barney Harwood. Philip read from his book A Web of Air, Lauren talked about being almost squeezed to death as a child by her pet boa constrictor named Samantha, and here's Candy talking about volcanoes and giants.

Philip Reeve, Barney Harwood, Candy Gourlay, Lauren St John

The three writers' books had all been shortlisted for the Blue Peter Award. Note: If you're like me and didn't grow up in Britain, Blue Peter isn't the colder brother of the Green Man. From what I gather, it's a TV show with a lot of perky people jumping around and doing stunts and making things out of bits of scrap you can find around the house. And I hear adults talking about getting the badges like they're knighthoods, or better. This time Lauren got the Blue Peter badge for her book Dead Man's Cove. Barney pointed out a kid in the audience who was wearing his own Blue Peter badge, so I'm wondering which novel he wrote. Barney even had his own team of fan girls:

I led my When Titus Took the Train event in the Junior Commons Room, where a bunch of very young kids, their parents and I made adventure boardgames. For the game we designed and played together, they helped me come up with good and bad things that could happen on a railway journey, and the kids came up with ideas such as 'Dragon fire' and finding £100, and the adults suggested things like sicking up their lunch, strikes, and delays due to the driver exploding. Then they made their own board games and I saw one boy who had his curving track go from Japan to England, and a very small girl wound hers from a rabbit hole to the Forests of Saturn.

Rather oddly, the room housed three enormous golden thrones, so of course we had to have our photos taken in them. Here my fab new publicist at Oxford University Press, Jenny Younger, and I pose regally with Titus.

Another big highlight was seeing Candy's wild and wonderful family. They really are about as fun as one family can be. (And they let me jump on their giant trampoline until I cripple myself.)

Go read Candy's blog post about the festival here! And don't miss Philip's prison notes here!

It was great to see some familiar faces from the Society of Children's Books Writers & Illustrators, including Nick Cross and his daughter Eleanor (who proved she was a very fine knitter at my Vern and Lettuce book launch) and Anita Loughrey and Joe. Fab illustrator David Melling, who came along to the event and said he's been following my blog, which made me very happy. (Great to meet you, David!)

Eleanor & Nick Cross at the signing session

Anita Loughrey & Joe

After very fine G&Ts with cucumber slices in the Green Room, Philip and I went on a tour of Oxford's not-yet-opened Story Museum, but I shall blog about that next time... Thanks to Nicolette Jones and the organisers of the festival for inviting me!


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2011 09:27 am (UTC)
Lovely to see you and the Titus event looked fun! Maybe I should have come and blown up a few train drivers. I'm very jealous about you getting to see inside the Story Museum - 2014 can't come soon enough!
Apr. 5th, 2011 09:47 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you could come, and great to see Eleanor, too! Yes, come along to one of my events sometime and run amok. I always love it when the adults come up with crazy suggestions, it's so much more fun than if they just sit and watch their kids.
I'll post some Story Museum photos soon!
Apr. 5th, 2011 12:30 pm (UTC)
Looked like a fabulous event and I too am envious of your preview of the Story Museum. Recently stumbled across Philip Reeve's A Dartmoor Sketchblog. If he's anywhere near as good a writer as he is an artist I'm going to have to visit the library soon. Shame he doesn't allow comments on his site. Titus takes the Train looks like a great book for my transport obsessed 2 year old to have read to him.
Apr. 5th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! Yes, I can happily recommend Philip's Mortal Engines septet. If you're on Facebook, he has a page where people can leave messages for him:
Apr. 5th, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks and what's still to come
Love this record of the events! The audience feedback for Sarah's event was great, so huge thanks to her for coming to the Oxford Literary Festival. Anyone out there who wants more fun of this kind can still join us next weekend (9/10 April) - and see Francesca Simon, Eoin Colfer, Justin Somper, Thomas Docherty, Michael Foreman and Terry Jones among others. See www.oxfordliteraryfestival.com for the full programme.
With thanks and cheers for Sarah for being brilliant.
Nicolette Jones,
Director, children's books programme, Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival
Apr. 5th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks and what's still to come
Hi, Nicolette! Glad you were happy with the event and thanks for inviting me! The line-up is great, glad to hear there's lots more happening.
Apr. 5th, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
Yay! I learned more from your blog post about the event than mine! Dig the virtual tour. and thanks for taking the photos, I was so dismayed when I realized that I'd forgotten my camera!
Apr. 5th, 2011 09:33 pm (UTC)
Glad to help out, gives me more reason to be so snappy-happy. Great event, and loved your blog post!
Apr. 5th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a good event. I picked up Mortal Engines at the weekend, after hearing you talk about it & fully intend to get Tall Story at some point too :-)
Apr. 5th, 2011 09:33 pm (UTC)
Hey, cool! I'd be curious to hear what you think of the books!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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