Hay Fever

Last week was my first visit to the Hay Festival and WOW! My experience was extra special because I was performing there on the final Saturday in the BBC tent as part of the Blue Peter Book Awards 15th anniversary celebration event. The festival is just fantastic in terms of the buzz about books that fills the whole site each day. There is just so much to see, so many great authors around and so many superb events to choose from.

The site is just outside the charming small town of Hay-on-Wye, right on the Welsh border and surrounded by delightful countryside. It’s bookshop heaven amongst the wooded hills! The festival site is a huge tented village with thousands of happy book-potty kids and adults roaming around trying to decide which event to go to next.

It was very exciting to be in the Green Room alongside lots of feted names from the world of both adult literature and children’s books. There are the TV celebs too but they spend most of their time staring at smartphones. I met several lovely kids’ writers and illustrators, covering the full range from teenies’ picture books to dark YA thrillers. The food is great too!

My Blue Peter event included the other BPBA winner the brilliant and funny Pamela Butchart along with her excellent illustrator Thomas Flintham plus the extra-nice CBBC presenter Katie Thisleton who hosted our session. Here we all are, micced up before we went in:

Katie, Pamela, Thomas and Andy (me!)

 The BBC tent quickly filled up and we had a lot of fun during the event sharing our favourite bits from our books, talking about what it was like to win the awards (Tom did a jig of delight) and answering questions from the hugely enthusiastic audience. I also shared some ‘True or False facts’ where the audience had to spot real from fake – loads of fun. My fav fake fact was that The Titanic weighed the same as 600,000 Justin Biebers (it’s more like 850,000!). The book signing afterwards was busy but loads of fun. These are the days that authors dream about!

Pamela excited about something!

I also managed to get to three other events while I was at Hay: I saw the very funny John Dougherty, the witty Michael de Souza (creator of Rastamouse) and the amazing Meek Family who gave a fantastic talk all about doing 100 Family Adventures in one year. The two girls Amy and Ella were superb speakers and it was great to meet them afterwards and sign a copy of The Anti-Boredom Book for them. It’s well worth visiting their website www.dotrythisathome.com – they are so inspiring.

The Amazing and brilliant Meek Family

Well, that’s enough about Hay – I can’t recommend it enough and I shall be there next year I really hope!

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