The Mountains to Sea Book Festival has just finished - phew - and I'm back to my desk. I programmed the children's events this year and had such fun watching the authors in action and helping at their mammoth signings. Three authors in particular really impressed me. Cathy Cassidy, Darren Shan and Derek Landy. They have such huge respect for their readers and do everything they can to send every reader home with a big smile on her or his face.
My own nephew isn't a big reader but after Darren's inspiring event went home and started writing a zombie story. My sister was astonished. Darren read two extracts from his work - one so spooky it made everyone jump in their seats and scream. Then he talked about his life as a writer and took questions from the floor. And then - then! - he signed for 3 hours solid, greeting each young reader with warmth and interest, chatting away to their parents and grandparents. It was a joy to watch.
Cathy Cassidy was equally charming to her long line of fans. She posed for photos, gave out sweets and chocolate, chatted to the girls and asked them questions about Dublin and what they liked to read. She basically made them all feel really special.
The last event of the festival was a hilarious delve into Derek Landy's weird and wonderful mind. His fans are something - I spotted lots of Skulduggery T-shirts, several hand-made Skulduggery bags and even a pair of Skulduggery runners. Again, he signed with patience and a big grin, making all his young readers laugh with him.
If a reader arrived with a pile of books, they all signed each and every book. If a child arrived with a grubby piece of paper, that was signed too. Nothing was too much trouble.
It was utterly inspiring and reminded me exactly why I love the children's book world so much - the writers are just so darned decent and lovely. To a man or woman - the picture book gang, the Irish writers, the UK writers, the Americans (Meg Rosoff and Patrick Ness) - all exceptional people. I'm sure they have their grumpy days like we all do, but they give everything they have to their readers and for that I salute them.
I'm so grateful to them all for making our festival so successful and giving so many readers an experience they will never forget.
We can all learn a lot about how to treat our readers from Cathy, Darren and Derek!
Yours in writing,