Monday 26 August 2013

Edinburgh Book Festival: by Numbers

by Teri Terry

Last week I was lucky enough to appear at the Edinburgh Book Festival!
The Edinburgh International Book Festival is the largest public celebration of the written word in the WORLD. It started 30 years ago, and now welcomes 220,000 visitors each year. 2013 saw over 800 writers and thinkers appearing in over 700 events.

With all these numbers whirling about in my mind, here’s how the trip added up for me, in numerical order:

1 amazingly FAB book festival. Seriously, it is so well-organized and so much fun! I’ll cry if I don’t go next year.

my nemesis...!
1 on stage seated break dance. You couldn’t make this up. In the middle of my schools event, a presumed fly wandered across my neck, then down my shirt. It traced a leisurely path down my shoulder, arm and back while I tried hard not to scream and/or giggle (it tickled). I was less successful at not extravagantly twitching.

1 one BIG cover reveal! No photo as of yet for this - but those at my events saw the cover to Shattered, and it hasn't been revealed yet! It was SO exciting to be able to show it up on a big screen. Hope I can show the rest of the world, soon.

2 sold-out events! One in the school’s programme and one in the public programme. Both were panels with Claire Merle and Julie Bertagna on dystopian fiction. This is the school's event:
L-R: chair Kathryn Ross, Claire Merle, Julie Bertagna, and Teri Terry (moi!)
2 sold out books! co-panelist Claire Merle’s The Glimpse, and my Slated!

3 moments of travel panic. Train out booked for wrong day; taxi failing to appear to take to station; and on return, taxi appearing but caught in traffic chaos and train home nearly missed. These things are sent to try us...

4 Scoobies! a.k.a. members of SCBWI: Sharon Jones, Claire Merle, Stephanie McGregor,
Sharon Jones: moving reading at Amnesty
 International Imprisoned writers event
and Christina Banach. Well 5, if you include me. One of the best parts of belonging to SCBWI is that wherever you go, there are friends old and new to meet up with. Sharon Jones was also there doing events after the recent release of Dead Jealous.

5 Dr Who fans, complete with a light-up sonic screwdriver, at the Teen Titles celebration! Heated debate on the best Doctor followed. They are sceptical of the new Dr Who, and impressed that I know Paul Cornell.

6 wardrobe changes: the number of times I changed my mind about what to wear to Wednesday's events.
Is it just me, or am I perfectly colour coordinated to the signing area?
I love it when a good plan  comes together...
(L-R - Julie Bertagna, Claire Merle with the awesome bird sculpture we all signed, and Moi)
13 hours slept. First morning, awake at 4; second (event day), 3:45 *sigh*. And 3rd – slept in, at last! til 5. I've really got to learn how to sleep properly when I'm away from home.

14 hours spent on trains and in taxis. And a big thanks to the guy from Wigan who played endless tunes on his harmonica in the train seat behind on the way there. That, like, really helped me write. Though not quite what I intended...

400-ish enthusiastic teens over two events: I’m sure there’d have been 400 questions if there’d been enough time for everyone! 
But I spoke to many of them after at the book signings. Complete with hand waving, and an admonishment to hurry up.

15,381,490 calories consumed. Admittedly, this is probably an under-estimate.

30 years on from the very first one, the Edinburgh Book Festival all added up to an amazing experience.

My report on Edinburgh last year can be found here. Special thanks to Stephanie McGregor for photos!

Friday 2 August 2013

The Slushpile Silly Season - Summer Reads for Healthy Living

by Addy Farmer 

... But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear, he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book ...
Robert Louis Stevenson - A child's garden of verses

Ah, lovely. It does happen, I've seen it, in fact I've taken photographs and shown them to people to prove that my children are not constantly interacting with a screen. But if your children aren't constantly outside exploring, getting messy and finding themselves then help is at hand.

In a survey published by the Department of Health last year, Scooby Doo, which features a cowardly Great Dane with an insatiable appetite for snacks and giant sandwiches, was found to be the healthiest of all children's television programmes. Consultants drew up the league tables by watching 200 hours of children’s television, featuring the 20 most popular programmes, and noted how many times physical activity was shown.
“Each character was rated on their activity levels and received marks for good behaviours such as walking short journeys and playing sport,” according to the Department of Health.
Because much of the action in the cartoon shows Scooby and his gang running away from monsters, they topped the list. However officials at the health ministry insisted they were not holding up Scooby Doo, famed for munching on Scooby Snax, as a healthy role model. Phew.

Look at him go! 
So, top 5 children’s programmes ranked by levels of physical activity and good behaviours:

  • Scooby Doo
  • Shaun the Sheep
  • Lazy Town
  • Peppa Pig
  • Bob the Builder

My personal favourite is Peppa Pig. Here's a good one all about healthy living

Although even Peppa Pig is not without controversy as Nadia Khomami reported in a 2012 article in the Radio Times
Parents have this week been turning against the behaviour of the naughty cartoon pig for being a bad influence. One father complained about his four-year-old son starting to splash in muddy puddles on the way to school. Others reported their children shouting atrocities such as "chocolate cake" when asked what they would like for breakfast, and one concerned mother even wrote on parenting website Mumsnet: “A day after watching [an] episode, my son wouldn’t eat his cucumber and tomatoes."

One mother asked, "Shall I ban Peppa Pig, or is that being totally unreasonable?" Um, yes well. It's all a far cry from R.L. Stevenson's child in the garden, so I have carefully hand-picked 5 books which will fulfill the healthy living criteria of physical activity and good behaviours.


'A bear however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.' A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Excellent sentiment and always outdoors, playing with legions of friends and getting up to all sorts! So far so good ...

Oh but wait, there's honey and lots of it and how much exercise is actually going on if you're busy Doing Nothing? 

'"What I like doing best is Nothing."
"How do you do Nothing," asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, 'What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?' and you say, 'Oh, Nothing,' and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."
"Oh!" said Pooh.”'

Oh indeed, Pooh. Moving swiftly on to:


The Hunger Games fulfils all outdoorsy expectations. It's outdoors for a start plus there's LOTS of running and jumping and leaping, and a slightly strict diet. 

“Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when it's morning again, they'll wash away"
- Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
Perfect. Until you get to the part (most of it) where they all kill one another and that is NOT healthy. Oh dear, I'm beginning to feel the strain of being constrained...


Okay so you'll have to get beyond a girl called Titty but this story is so outdoorsy you can smell the water. John, Susan, Titty and Roger sail their boat, Swallow, to a deserted island for a summer camping trip (so far so perfect).If you can forget the names - there's no killing, no parents, plenty of fresh air and jam sandwiches so all's good. 
Swallows and Amazons for-ever!” 

Plus there are two pirates called Nancy and Peggy (unless you consider that the name thing is becoming an issue here). Maybe just think about what fun they're all having.

Okay, so I will confess to a nostalgic love for Wind in the Willows. I mean what's better for summer than making friends, having adventures and messing about in boats? Yes, Toad is a bit on the tubby side and has a fondness for motor cars (Poop! Poop!) which makes him behave quite badly and maybe Moley is a bit slow and sits down rather too much and perhaps Ratty could make eat a bit more healthily ...

Right, I'm losing the will to live here. Begone exercise and good behaviours! Books are more than the sum of their parts! Forget, straining to fit these stories into government criteria - they don't fit. They are no more or less than 5 of my favourite summery reads and no more so than my favourite, The Moomins, written and illustrated by the incomparable, Tove Jansson.


 "The spirit of adventure sped through his soul on mighty wings.”

“I'll have to calm down a bit. Or else I'll burst with happiness”
Moomintroll, Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson

Can't ask for more.

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