Well, August has come and gone. Once again, it’s been a hectic time. The great atmosphere in Edinburgh during the summer festival period never fails to delight – for residents and visitors alike. As in previous years, I’ve spent plenty of time soaking up the atmosphere and attending a wide variety of events.
I’ve been to a range of shows, mostly comedy, including some stand up and all great fun. I also took the opportunity to revisit the Celts Exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland – a building that plays a significant part in my first novel, The Temple Legacy.
As might be expected, I’ve made several visits to the Book Festival – some for specific events and on other occasions just to browse around and get a coffee. Its location is really convenient, set in Charlotte Square Gardens at the very heart of the New Town.
Hats off to the Book Festival, it really takes engaging with younger readers very seriously. Providing lots of good age appropriate events and safe areas for younger children makes it so much easier for families to visit. And with such a wide variety of offerings in the programme, it would be almost impossible for any reader not to find things to enjoy. Talks and engagements were on offer from a wide range of authors who between them seemed to span every theme and genre. Then there were experts giving insights into science, the future, history, business and politics – everything. It has been a really rich and varied programme that offered something new for every taste, every day.
Some high points for me included talks and readings by friends. At the Blackwell’s Writers at the Fringe event, Toni Jenkins gave a great insight into her novel The Sender. On another afternoon, I joined others in the Book Festival’s Spiegeltent where Sarah Eakin was reading as part of the Story Shop event. The author of Wed, White & Blue, Sarah’s seamless delivery was very impressive.
Of the other events I took in, all were fascinating and met or exceeded my expectations while often providing unexpected insights that have got me thinking about aspects of my own work. These included events on both fiction and nonfiction.
Kate Summerscale’s writing is renowned for lifting the lid on true historical crime incidents. She talked about her research methods, story selection and her latest book The Wicked Boy. Her use of creative narrative to bring real events back to life always provides new insight, knowledge and entertainment. Her new book explores an incident of matricide during the Victorian era to offer an insight into human character and experience. Of course, it explores a shocking crime, the consequent punishment and, eventually, perhaps even some form of redemption.
Well done to Scottish crime writer Val McDermitt who did a great job of interviewing Kate Summerscale and directing the course of the event.
One of my favourite historical fiction writers is Conn Iggulden so I was delighted to take the opportunity to see him at this year’s Book Festival. Having delivered several series of novels, his range of writing is clearly very impressive. With equal success, he’s explored Rome and the world of Julius Caesar, the emergence of the Mongol super power under Genghis Khan and, more recently, the Wars of the Roses. Ostensibly, his session at the Book Festival was to consider the tensions and processes involved in drawing a series to a close. But his talk, both on topic and the frequent asides, was such good entertainment value that I’m sure I would have been happy whatever his focus.
Another summer festival season has come to an end but that’s never it in the Festival City. There’s always something else coming up on the horizon and it won’t be long before there’s something new to see.