Making Hay (and the sun had better shine)

I love being a writer. I love being able to wear my pyjamas or a ballgown to work (and believe me, I have done both), without anyone but a seven year old telling me I am dressing inappropriately (although usually it is merely to add a feather boa and a bikini top to the ensemble). I especially love working when I want and where I want, e.g. in the corner of a dimly-lit cafe, or in the back row of the cinema, or in front of a rerun of Dawson’s Creek (research, OBVIOUSLY). And best of all I love that I work on my own with no one watching over my shoulder, or telling me I am doing it wrong. Which I have had more than my fair share of in the past – from both Mrs Nadin snr, and the Prime Minister (and I am sure I don’t need to tell you which one was scarier). But every so often, I am dragged from the comforting gloom, to emerge blinking into the light, and talk about why I would prefer to be back in the darkened room. These are called Literary Festivals, the biggest and loveliest (and scariest) of which is the Hay Festival, which is where I am heading in 17 hours and 37 minutes. Not that I am counting. Last time I was there, I managed to sit in Jeremy Paxman’s seat by mistake. Though I did manage not to say the word ‘penis’ in front of a room of ten year olds, so it is swings and roundabouts in the embarrassment stakes. Obviously I am trying to focus on the good bits and have compiled a list to remind me, every hour, on the hour, when I am utterly not counting down until D-Day:

1. I get to meet people who have actually read my books and who aren’t the menace, my boyfriend, his sisters, or my parents. Although the menace is coming. And the boyfriend’s sisters. Though mercifully not the parents, who are banned for various misdemeanors, including: issuing corrections, heckling, and saying ‘that’s my daughter’ at inappropriate moments.  

2. I get to wear a sticky out dress and very tall shoes, and not just in my front room. In fact, I get to buy a special sticky out dress just to make myself feel better (it is bright red and more sticky out than any previous concoctions).

3. I get to hang out with lots of other pale reclusive writers who spend all their time in darkened rooms hunched over keyboards. And Philip Ardagh, who seems to spend all his time in fancy hotels, showing off his tremendous beard. When he actually writes is a mystery. It is my suspicion that he gets Toto the houseboy to do it all for him. 

4. I get paid, in champagne. And I am NOT EVEN JOKING.

5. See point 4. 

Yup, I feel better already, and only 17 hours and 35 minutes to go now… 

So if you do like the books, or just like seeing sticky out dresses, or very nervous authors falling over their tall shoes and tripping over TV anchormen, then I will be on the Starlight Stage at 4pm on Wednesday 1st June talking about Buttercup Mash (with the very funny Tamsyn Murray), and at 1pm on Thursday 2nd June talking about Penny Dreadful. 

That’s if I can find my dark glasses. I hear it’s almost summer out in the real world…

About Joanna Nadin

A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics I’ve written more than 70 books, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like Red and The Amorist. I also lecture in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and hold a doctorate in young adult literature. I’m a winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, and nominated for the Carnegie Medal for Joe All Alone, which is currently being adapted for television. I also work with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series. I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.
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