Wednesday 8 June 2011


We paid a fleeting visit to Hay Festival this year while travelling home from a week in Pembrokeshire where we'd taken the opportunity to meet Jackie Morris, who showed us some proofs for her new nursery rhyme book which comes out later this year. We have been to Hay before on a few occasions - it's like an Aladdin's cave for book lovers - and it is usually a sleepy little place, like a library? Shhh! But not this time. Hay was alive with all sorts of people and events and distractions. From tents on front gardens offering tea and refreshments and others offering antiques to others publicising events more closely related to the festival. Rickshaws were carrying people to the event from car parks and street artists with prefabricated stages entertained those more determined to walk. The town was truly alive!

Having only a short time at Hay we had timed our visit to see Keren David and Peter Cocks. This was our first visit to Hay so we didn't know what to expect the format to be. The stage was shared with an interviewer, Pete Hurley from the festival bookshop, who had read the books, Keren David's When I Was Joe and Almost True and Peter Cocks' Long Reach, and had compiled a list of questions. The organisation of the questions was set to involve both writers and the stage had an air of informality about it. One of the first questions was about where they wrote and I was surprised that their answers had a lot in common. Although Peter had a "writing shed", he didn't use it and it was lost to his children. He tends to write in the quiet of his bedroom before the distractions of the day start. Keren tends to write where there ar no family distractions and preferably no internet either so choosing places like libraries and cafes. Pete Hurley asked about inspirations for parts of their books and with Long Reach, particularly the celebrity wedding. Peter had been to such a wedding while working in children's TV and had based the scene on that. Keren went on to explain about her next book "Lia's guide to winning the lottery" which sounds most intriguing. It is about a 16 year old girl winning 8 million pounds on the lottery and the issues that that creates with family and friends etc. We are certainly looking forward to that one.

After the first batch of questions each author read from their books. Keren read from the dramatic opening chapter of Almost True which sets the scene to restart the story after When I Was Joe, taking us at a pace far faster than when we left Ty. They say the first pages are the most import to catch a reader and Keren certainly has in Almost True. Peter read from the celebrity wedding scene in Long Reach, scenes with dialogue where the actor in Peter added voices to match the characters. We have both read When I Was Joe and Almost True but only Maryom has read Long Reach and now The Mole has decided that it's something he must read for himself.

Pete Hurley then asked some more questions before inviting questions from the audience.

Time ran out and we all adjourned to Pemberton's bookshop where book signings were on offer. Maryom took the opportunity, quietly, to ask Peter about further Len Deighton influences in Long Reach which Peter was happy to confirm. The Mole was a little disappointed to see people collecting autographs from authors without actually having a book to sign - but that's just The Mole I'm sure.

We were surprised to find the extent of people exhibiting at the festival and noticed, in our short time there, Highland Park whisky with a tentative literary link in Ian Rankin's Rebus's favourite, Wiggly Wigglers wild flower garden and Sky with a 3D cinema showing a film about the Amazon rain forest and trying to drum up support for help in protecting it.

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