I was very excited to be able to attend The Hay Festival this year for a day with my sister Chrissi. It can be described as:
“gathering people together to think about the world as it is and imagine how it might be. It’s a big conversation about discovery and intellectual adventure. We share stories and ideas with international writers and thinkers, film-makers, historians and novelists, philosophers, environmentalists, poets and scientists; and at night we like to party with the greatest comedians and musicians. It’s a bunch of friends hanging out in a field with time to think, finding the inspiration to re-imagine the world.”
As a pair of book-fiends, we were both looking to a day spent in Hay-on-Wye in Wales, known as “a town of books,” where we would attend two talks at the Festival and explore the many bookshops the town had to offer. However, our journey didn’t start off too well…
Yes, something crashed into our coach on the motorway – that thing you see hanging down is the exhaust! Luckily no-one was hurt, but it took a long time before we were on our way again.
Hooray, we made it to Newport! Which was incredibly wet. The train to Hereford was next, through some beautiful countryside and what we hoped was a short trip to our B+B near Hay-on-Wye. Much later, and to our dismay a fifty pound taxi ride later (!!), we arrived at our home for the evening – in the back of beyond but perfectly situated for the festival.
Oh, and the lovely owner took pity on our poor bedraggled souls, and fed us hot cheese and potato pie, and homemade biscuits. Excellent! Our room was just right, with some fantastic views over the Brecon Beacon countryside.
After a good nights rest, we headed off to the festival, our first talk centred around three of the Waterstones Eleven debut authors – Gavin Extence who wrote The Universe Versus Alex Woods, Kevin Maher who wrote The Fields, and Taiye Selasi who wrote Ghana Must Go. (please see my reviews attached to the title). We were particularly interested to see these three authors as we are following the list closely over this year. All authors brought their own slice of personality to the interview and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to their explanations over the writing process. Kevin Maher has to win the award for the funniest line ever in an interview situation: “Ah hello, I’m a child-molester to be sure!” Don’t worry folks, he ISN”T, but was making a joke regarding the controversial topic in his novel.
Onto the next talk which was entitled “Geekhood and Geek Girl.” This involved two authors, former actor Andy Robb who is famous for his Geekhood series, and former model Holly Smale who has recently published her first novel – Geek Girl. I’m not familiar with these authors, but Chrissi has read Geek Girl recently and highly recommends it. The interview was tailored towards a younger audience, trying to figure out where we (the audience) rate on the geek spectrum, the difference between “geek” and “nerd,” the rubbish status or not so rubbish status of the TV programme The Big Bang Theory and some great teen advice about loving the person you are and not caring what others think by Holly which went down a storm. I thought they both engaged with the audience on a great level, and it was lovely to watch the interaction and comedy moments between the two. Oh, and the tent had a sparkly ceiling. Nuff said.
Our day was almost coming to an end, but before preparing ourselves for a long journey home, we had to go and investigate the dozens of bookshops promised in a town famous for its books. It did not disappoint. Just one picture to whet the appetite…
And we got a great haul too!
So despite bus exhaust issues, outlandish taxi fares and wet and blustery weather, we had a fantastic time at the Hay Festival and would highly recommend it to any other bibliophiles. Hopefully next year we will be able to stay a bit longer and attend more talks, and buy more books (obviously!) Although you can perhaps see from my bookshelves at home, I might already have a bit of a problem…
Please feel free to comment or share your book festival stories. Please also see Chrissi’s post HERE for her take on the Hay Festival. Happy Reading everyone!