This photo's by Jay Williams for Telegraph Books, and I was awfully excited to be included in the gallery between Pam Ayres and Virginia McKenna, both of whom I got to meet in the Green Room. Here's a doodle of my awesome Scholastic UK publicist, Dave Sanger, bravely helping me on stage to lead the audience in a very rousing rendition of the Dinosaur Police SONG. It might not have been the most tuneful number on the day, but we all sang it with great gusto. (Thanks, Philip Reeve, for writing the lyrics, and Sarah Reeve, for teaching me some ace uke chords to play with it!)
Here's Dave, sheltering from the rain under the umbrella of my enormous hat. Oh... and I have some exciting news about David!
Not only is he a fab publicist, but he's signed a book deal with Quercus for a book for adults, All Their Minds in Tandem, coming out next spring. Yay, Dave! I can't wait to read it.
So for our event, we did some drawing, and some roaring, comics, and general mucking about.
I showed everyone my way of drawing Trevor the T-Rex, and here's one of the drawings from a girl in the audience named Grace. We discussed various possible dinosaur professions, and this one's a dinosaur astronaut. (Here are some guides on my website to drawing dinosaurs, if you want to have a try.)
And it wasn't just people in Wales drawing dinosaurs; here's a picture tweeted in from South America of Inspector Sarah Tops at the same time by Mercedes Ortiz!
And then I got to sign and draw in lots of books. Thanks so much, everyone who came along! (Photo tweeted by Steph Roundsmith at @kidsrwreview.)
Big thanks to the other Sarah, who managed our event, and Glyn Morgan (@GR_Morgan), who was working another event but made me feel very famous by pulling me aside for a photo to tweet.
Actually, a lot of us had fun with the hat. Here are authors Ed Vere, Holly Smale and Tom Moorhouse.
I only had time to go to one event, so I went to see Holly give a talk with Megan Farr and Arabella Weir. Holly and Arabella have both written stories about teenage girls very much like they were as teenagers, and it was kind of funny because I think it they'd met each other as teenagers, they would have loathed each other. Since they're both grown-ups now, they can talk about these things in a friendly sort of way, but I think the audience could still feel the undercurrent of their semi-fictional teenage selves at war. (Which made everything way more interesting than if they'd been very similar.)
The most surprising question actually came from a child in the audience, who said: "You're both obviously very intelligent women. So why are you writing books for children?" (Cue a big intake of breath from several people up front and in the audience who make books for children.) Holly and Arabella answered it well, saying that it can be even harder to write for children, because children don't let writers hide behind unnecessary literary nonsense: either a story works for them, or it doesn't. In fact, Holly didn't even set out to write for children. She made the Geek Girl protagonist 15 years old, and that's what made the editor decide it was a children's book. Both Arabella and Holly said they never dumb down allusions and jokes because they're writing for kids, and Holly pointed to Shakespeare references in her stories.
Both writers said it's harder to make people laugh than cry, which I very much agree with. It reminded me of a line tweeted recently by Ewa SR:
Being funny doesn't mean being dizzy or less talented, on the contrary, it takes more skill.
Another thing that takes a whole lot of skill is moderating talks. Big cheers to people who moderated MANY talks, including Daniel Hahn (who was compere for 18 talks during the festival!) and the Telegraph Book's Martin Chilton, who also had to read a whole lot of books and ask a lot of good questions. Here's Martin, looking lovely in the dino hat. (And yes, he DID suddenly sprout a lavish blond fringe.)
I was sad to miss illustrator Jamie Littler's event with Danny Wallace, but I hear it was a storming success. (Here he is, with the newspaper rose we were all given.)
One of the hardest things about this year has been not having enough time to catch up with friends. And this festival was wonderful for that. On the first morning, I came out of my bedroom at George House to find my great friend, writer Moira Young, also coming downstairs to breakfast. Yay! Here's Moira, with wonderful Shirley Smith, who lives in the house and turns it into a guesthouse once a year, just for the festival. I stayed with her in 2012 and was thrilled to be back.
And it was great to catch up with Moira and her architect husband Paul. Another big treat was getting to have a girly slumber party with Holly Smale, when she found she wouldn't be able to catch the last train home. After dinner, we stayed up WAY too late chatting in the pink bedroom, in our little twin beds, then came back together on the train. Good times.
And the other people who made it a fun visit was the group of Norwegians at the festival - a 'noggin' of Norwegians as I've decided they're called - and they took me out to dinner on the first night: Helga and John Rullestad (who hosted me in Norway for the SILK Festival) and their good friend Odd Henning Johannessen. (Thanks so much, Norwegians!)
Thanks so much to Hay Fever Festival Director Mary Byrne, and Artists Manager Heather Salisbury at Hay Festival for inviting and looking after me, Shirley for putting me up, Dave for being my glamorous dinosaur assistant, the team at the Hay Festival bookshop, Dave and Harriet Bayly for the second night's dinner, drivers Darren and Mark, Sarah, the stewards and everyone who made the festival run so smoothly and be so much fun. And big thanks to Eddie and Esther for all the costume help!