My first session of the afternoon was the wonderful Mini Grey. Full of energy and enthusiasm, she delighted the audience with explaining how she creates stories. Like the recipe for a perfect Victoria sponge, the perfect story has exactly the right ingredients in the right proportions. The ideas for these she collects all the time, from everywhere and everything! For example, the idea for 'Hermelin: The Detective Mouse' came from a cheese box which she bought back from Prague. I know that one member of the audience would have been delighted when she opened the box and a tiny Hermelin appeared as I overheard a family discussing how much their son loved Mini's books and 'Hermelin' in particular!
Mini then introduced us to Abra - or was it Cadabra? Together, they performed a trick where we all had to focus on the centre of the spinning wheel with magical results! Mini shared the story of 'The Bad Bunnies' Magic Show' which is just delightful before showing us some of her 'mini' books. Her session ended with her new book, 'The Last Wolf' and her encouragement to draw, make and collect ideas for ourselves. Inspiring as ever!
At the signing, I was delighted to see Kjartan Poskitt, whose 'Urgum the Axeman' books were so enjoyed by my son and husband when they used to share them at bedtime. I also met John Hegley for the first time.
My final event was S F Said. 'Dreams, goals and ambitions are the most important things' about his characters and he asked children in the audience what theirs were. There were some amazing suggestions!
He told us about about the books which had made him want to be a writer and the films which inspired him to tell 'epic' stories. He told us about all the rejections that he had had and about the importance of drafting and re-drafting your writing. Each book -'Varjak Paw', 'The Outlaw Varjak Paw' and 'Phoenix'- took years to write and re-draft until it became the final published version. Lots of inspirational words!
There was time for questions at the end- and there were some fabulous ones, including will there ever be a third Varjak Paw? The answer- yes!
My day finished with more book signings, including Chris d'Lacey as I treated myself to books two and three of 'The Erth Dragons'.
I met up with so many wonderful people I know and lots of new people. Bristol's first Festival of Children's Literature was a huge success and the organisers deserve masses of praise and thanks for their work. It is not easy to arrange something like this and if they are teachers from the school, then I know just how busy they are, making it even more impressive! I'm looking forward to next year already!