I am now on a train heading from Glasgow to Ardrossan, returning from Edinburgh for the third time this Fringe. I have been reviewing, quite fastidiously, the Fringe festival, in the middle of which I visited the Edinburgh International Book Festival twice over two days for my annual pimms & poetry session.
It began more than strangely for we were no longer in Charlotte Square, on the grass, under the grandiosity of the New Town. Instead we were tuck’d into the grounds of the Art School for a different, but interesting alteration in the vibes. The theatres were now in the old lecturing halls, or whatever the spaces were used for in the throes of academe.
A new factor was the open air big screen, open to the public for free, which streamed a steady supply of online chits & chats, while the main events were also available online – the festival is now truly living up to its name.
I saw two talks of over the two days – a small slice of the 550 authors that were heading to Edinburgh. The first was Scottish thriller Tsar, Chris Brookmyre, talking about the Cliffhouse, his new book set on a Scottish island where every member of a Hen Party are sitting on potentially deadly secrets. It was lovely to hear him read a section, filling the chit-chat patter of partying women with a naturality that belies his sex.
The next day I spent a delightful hour with Northern Irish short-story writer, Wendy Erskine, whose Stories of Belfast was an hour of praising the short story as a vital form, & also a chance to explore some of her second collection, Dance Move, full of modernity & magic, & of course Belfast.
It was great to be back at the Festival, I had a couple of nibbles, & next year I’ll be knee-deep in it all. A highly successful & enjoyable scouting mission to the Edinburgh Art School.