EdBookFest Day 5 – Fairytale Meets Reality: Audrey Niffenegger & Neil Gaiman

As guest selector for 2011, Audrey Niffenegger is in conversation with a number of excellent authors, and with Neil Gaiman in town she took the opportunity to have a chat about the nature of fairytales.

The conversation ranged from the evolution of the fantastical story (‘from sacred story to myth, then fairytale… at the end of the scale, it becomes a joke‘) to writing for the time-travelling Dr Who.

Along the way, Neil told us his take on Hansel and Gretel (‘the witch was fine for carbs, but was clearly protein-starved’), talked a bit about Sandman and discussed the scary bits in Coraline.

He also let slip a few hints about his next project – it’s meant for children so far, but it includes a suicide, and he’s not found out what happens at the end yet.

Backstage at EdBookFest – the Event Office

Creation of the magical Book Festival takes a lot of hard work by a lot of people, and a lot of Henry the Hoovers. The hidden Event Office is the engine room of the Festival – while I won’t tell you where it is, here’s a few sneaky pics.

This is The Grid, pictured in the Event Office. The Grid is what staff set their watches for, detailing every moment of activity at the Festival, from morning Ten at Ten to Unbound running times.

The Grid dictates the life of over 100 dedicated staff, to make certain that the festival runs smoothly.

Listeing to the Radio

You’ll have seen the staff wandering through the Gardens, with radios tucked to their belts and earpieces tapping straight in to their brains.

As the shifts change, the call ‘going off radio, going off-site’ goes out across the network, and the radios sit in their chargers for the night.

They are there for First-aid calls, to help staff find each other around site and to share the odd, amusing joke. Talk to a radio-wearer, and occasionally their gaze glazes as they listen to the voices in their heads, forgetting you can’t always hear them too.

Often, customers make a bee-line for staff wired up to radios (especially late arrivals who are determined to have the strict No Latecomers policy bent just for them.)

The Clean-up Team

And so, to the stars of the evening Book Fest – the army of Henry the Hoovers. (This year there’s a Hetty Hoover too.)

As customers leave and the 4-hour late-night signing queue for [insert famous author name here] reduces to a trickly, front-of-house staff wheel out the Henrys, to ensure every venue is spotless for the next day.



Daily Shoe Challenge

Cream heels with golden butterfly wings, pictured on the green felt on the Press Pod.

I’ve put together an overview page so you can catch up with the whole Shoe Challenge. So far no blisters, and have resisted resorting to wellies.


Recent Stories

EdBookFest Day 4 – Children’s Literature, the Great Downpour & a Water Concerto

EdBookFest Day 3 – Jennifer Egan, Architecture & Alligators

EdBookFest Day 2 – Caitlin Moran, Crocodiles and New Writing Careers

EdBookFest Day 1 – Alasdair Gray & a Giant Panda Skull


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