Book Week Scotland kicks off with a bang!
Yesterday morning I did more Book Week Scotland jazz hands (yes, they are a thing) than I thought possible and by the time I was tottering my way up the Royal Mile to go to the National Library of Scotland’s event on conservation I was exhausted from all the jazziness. The first thing I noticed when I reached the NLS is the tree of joy that is actually a stack of baskets with wrapped up books in them, colour coded – red for kids, brown for adults – and with a wee note imploring guests to take one!
FREE BOOK GRAB? WIN! I knew I had chosen the right event to kick off BWS13.
The event was well attended and after a quick intro, each of the specialists had about ten minutes and a series of slides to explain to the audience what they did in their day. We had a fascinating walk through of repairing a 16th century Latin book where the conservator showed how she made paper from pulp that was the same as the book pages and was able to fill in the holes and tears. The cover was completely replaced and the stitching was rebound identically to the original. It was amazing work. Then we heard about map conservation work done on a map of Glasgow, which was a lovely surprise as the conservator turned out to be a friend I play roller derby with at Auld Reekie Roller Girls! Finally, we heard about preservation work and the effort that goes into the lending of items from the collection, leaving me with the distinct feeling that I need to bag a job as the person who accompanies items from the collection on their international exploits, and learn to conserve and repair ancient manuscripts on the side.
Later in the evening I popped along to Waterstones in the West End of Edinburgh and made my way to the top floor for the Bloody Scotland On Tour event. After a short catch up with the festival manager and some friends, we settled down as the powerhouses of Tartan Noir took their seats. This panel of four, chaired by Bloody Scotland Festival co-founder herself, Lin Anderson, were as stylistically different as they are well known and their informal chat reflected this in the best light. Aly Monroe spoke about her characters and how it is hard for her to write chronologically while Brighton Belle author Sara Sheridan gave the background to her Mirabelle mysteries and spoke a bit about how she also specialises in historical fiction and how different each of the years of the fifties are. The anecdotes about writing their friends into their works had us giggling as Quintin Jardine called out a certain friend of his who believed he was the lothario of Jardine’s books.
Then the audience got to ask questions in one of the most comprehensive and open-feeling sessions I’ve ever attended at a book event, and believe me, I attend a fair few literary events. Questions about mistakes in the books were fielded as easily as questions about writing styles and the evening went smoothly, with the authors taking time to speak to the individuals and sign books before we all were released from the, now-closed for the night, bookstore.
Back out into the Edinburgh evening, I said my goodbyes, tweeted an image, and made my way home, clutching my shiny copy of The Oxford Companion to the Mind, my NLS lucky book dip score, ready to man the office the next day so some of my colleagues can get out to some of the fabulous 600+ events going on this week.