My first event is at 11:30. I have plenty of time to spare, so decide to venture forth in search of shoes, since in my usual state of spaciness I packed only high-heels and flip flops and nothing in between. I wander around town until I find some black ballerinas, stick my flip flops in my purse, and make my way to the event only to find that I have missed it because I was looking at my carefully-typed-out itinerary for the wrong day.
3pm I return to Charlotte’s Square for my next event, after checking my schedule a kazillion times to make sure I’m on the right day. (I have a problem with time, if you haven’t noticed. I don’t feel it passing. It’s all just numbers to me, and numbers and I are not friends.)
This event is with two new writers, Kerry Hudson and Lisa O’Donnell. They are both Scottish writers, but Lisa lives in L.A. and Kerry in London, and I enjoy listening to them read excerpts of their books and talk about topics familiar to me like how the titles were chosen, what they felt about the covers, their writing processes, and all of the questions I’m always asked when interviewed.
Afterward, I go to their signing table, buy both books, and introduce myself. And then I do something I like to do in new cities: I walk for two hours, having no clue where I am going. One friendly woman joins me for a few blocks, tells me all about her babydaddy disappearing, and then goes her own way. And finally I find my way back to the festival thanking the shoe gods for those ballerinas. I never would have made it that many miles in my flip flops.
I go to the Authors’ Yurt and grab a water and sit down next to someone and force myself to chat. It’s the girl who is organizing the UNBOUND event for the next night, and I promise her to come. And then I spot Lisa sitting across from us and tell her that I enjoyed her talk from earlier. “I’m about to do another one,” she says. “I’m about to go to another one,” I say, and take out my ticket and discover that I have signed up to see her once again, but this time she’s talking about screenwriting.
7pm I sit in the audience and find myself laughing because everyone is there to learn about screenwriting and Lisa is basically telling everyone that it’s a crap business and that they’re crazy to want to do it. The moderator, Jonathan Ley, tries to diffuse the situation, urging her to talk more about screenwriting, but she’s adamant that she’s much happier writing novels. Her honesty is refreshing and the confused reaction of the audience is priceless and I find myself smiling broadly because it’s all so comic.
8pm I book it out of the tent back to the Authors’ Yurt because I have the first organized meeting of my trip: Keren David, who my British editor had introduced me to by email. Keren has written several YA novels, and has a few more coming soon, so we chat about that and when I admit I don’t know anyone at the festival she grabs a passing woman and introduces her as Linda Strachen, author of over 60 children’s books. “Linda knows EVERYONE,” Keren says. We trade cards and they run off to another event.
8:30pm I wander past the bookstore and see Lisa sitting there at the signing table with her moderator Jonathan. I sweep them off to the Authors’ Yurt and we go outside and sit and talk all evening with a wandering writer from Mexico. And when it gets too cold to sit outside in my dress and ballerinas, I walk back to my hotel and watch the fireworks explode above the castle from my window.