This is always a fabulous festival to do. My first was in 2003, and I have done four more since.
It is actually a series of festivals, in various locations around Austria. This time I performed in Graz at the Schauspielhaus (above), in a glass factory, in the lingerie department of a 1913 department store, and in a wonderful floating cafe/bar on the river.
Then it was on to Linz, and the Brucknerhaus. What a place to sing! Glorious acoustics.
I was sharing the stage with wonderful acts like the acrobatic duo Liv & Tobi from Germany, vocal performer Zero Boy from New York and puppeteer Roberto White from Argentina. Watching from the wings is always exciting. Very magical. The physical acts work so hard to keep at the top of their game. The dance duo did an hour’s warm up before every show.
Mind you, I had to work hard for this festival too. I prepared new stories especially for the glass factory (The Princesses with Glass Hearts) and the lingerie department show (The Onion Princess) Both of these were adult stories, though they might not sound it! And for the teen shows in Graz, I prepared a bi-lingual version of the classic ghost story The Golden Arm. And I got the German right on the night 😊
It felt like I was stepping back in time the other day, as I slipped inside the Society of Authors HQ in Drayton Gardens, Kensington, London. Such a wonderfully atmospheric old building. And when I found a heavily-laden bookshelf with a sign saying ‘Help yourself to a book,’ my happiness was complete!
I was there to lead a workshop for authors on how to present your work live. So we did everything from microphone technique to how to choose a perfect extract to read. Along the way we hurled socks at each other (a confidence building exercise – honest) and shared our experiences as working authors. Best of all was hearing about the fabulous new books the participants were bringing out. Such a talented group!
March was crazy busy with World Book Day (!) work, and the snow really didn’t help… I had to reschedule two schools and four adult shows. So it was funny to find myself heading to Kyiv, with its deep snow and -10 degree temperature! But I had a truly wonderful time. First at the Kyiv International School, where I worked over three days with all ages, from 3 – 16. And then I had an adult event for Mystetskyi Arsenal, talking to children’s authors about the interface between live storytelling and novel writing.
This event was also the Ukrainian launch for my picture book BREATHE. It was great to meet the whole team, especially illustrator Olga Kuznetsova (pictured on the far right here)
When you can’t control your emotions and your birthday is coming, you need great friends…
Introducing my gorgeous new picture book BREATHE! I met the publisher, Liliya Pochkun, at the Arsenal Book Fair in Kyiv last year, and we immediately knew we wanted to make a book together. It was illustrated, designed and printed in Ukraine, by Liliya’s Wise Bee books.
I hope this is the first of many collaborations with my new Ukrainian friends 🙂