Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Authors as performers.

As you may have noticed I've recently seen three children's authors at the Imagine festival, Francesca Simon, Cressida Cowell and Andy Stanton.
Although it's common now for writers to speak at schools, back in my day (the land of long ago yore) we never saw a real life author ( they were allowed to stay tucked away writing funnily enough,) so this was my first experience of seeing authors live.

I have to say that they were all brilliant but very different in the way they interacted with the audience and the aspects they chose to talk about and it gave me some hope that one day if (and I know it's a big if) I was ever expected to go to an event like that I'd be able to find a way to do it.

Francesca Simon - author of Horrid Henry and The Sleeping Army - was very calm and assured. She chose to spend much of her time talking about how she writes, where she gets her ideas from and discussed her research into her new book in detail.

Cressida Cowell - author and illustrator of How To Train Your Dragon - was a bundle of enthusiasm and her presentation was themed very much at the children in the sudience. She shared amusing slides and stories of her childhood with us and was hugely popular with her audience.

Andy Stanton - author of Mr Gum - jumped around the stage, danced and played the harmonica in a marvellous performance aimed most definitely at the kids. He ran up and down the aisles, told jokes, messed about and generally made his audience roll about laughing.

I'm not entirely sure where I'd fit in among these - much would depend on the genre and age group you write for I imagine and of course on what you'd personally be comfortable doing on stage (my harmonica playing isn't up to much for a start!). What I did take away was that the fans, the children in the audiences were enraptured at the opportunity to see their favourite authors, very keen to ask questions and no doubt inspired by the whole affair.

I would hope that the authors took some fond feelings away with them and perhaps felt inspired to keep working and pleasing their fans who show such love for their stories.

It did strike me that these three authors were at the top of their game, they've written many books, sold all over the world and have a huge amount of fans and yet they're still expected to put in the hours promoting their work and still find time to write, edit and everything else a normal person has to do.

These are the things we must accept now and embrace, being an author now is not just about writing, editing etc you have to put work in to promote your book, have a presence on the internet and keep your fans and your publishers happy. It's a tall order and yet most aspiring authors would chew off their left arm just to have the opportunity. Besides I'm sure I could learn to type one handed??

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