What a fantastic weekend I’ve just had! The fifth annual Chipping Norton Literary Festival (otherwise known as Chiplitfest) has just finished, and it was SO MUCH FUN! Lovely author pal John Dougherty and I were heavily involved in programming and running the children’s events, including performing in our own events, so it’s been a dash from one thing to the next, and it’s all been wonderful.
Last Wednesday, John and I took part in a ceremony to celebrate the publication of an anthology of short stories written by pupils from two Chipping Norton primary schools. Back in November, we went into those schools to run creative writing workshops, and this anthology is the culmination of all the hard work put in by the pupils, teachers and Milly Weaver, the schools’ coordinator, since then.
The Festival proper kicked off on Thursday with a day of author visits to schools. John and I had pulled together a crack team of Very Nice People Who Also Write Brilliant Books, and here they all are…
All the school events went off very well, thanks to the brilliant authors and to the volunteers who chauffered them from school to school!
Then on Saturday morning, I headed off up the A44 bright and early and the two days of public events began!
Joanna Nadin – Flying Fergus and his Magic Bicycle
John Dougherty – Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Great Big Story Nickers
Jo Cotterill & Cathy Brett – Electrigirl
Paul Stickland – Dinosaur Roar Pop-up Workshop
Steve Cole – Monsters, Magic and Mayhem
Sarwat Chadda – Ash Mistry, mythology and superheroes
On at the same time as Sarwat but in the Chipping Norton library were Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap, talking about their new picture book Very Little Sleeping Beauty, which I read over the weekend and much enjoyed! And the amazing storyteller Atinuke was also in action in the Library in two events over the weekend.
Our children’s festival venue, the Crown & Cushion hotel, was brilliantly staffed by volunteers from the festival, our tech guy Joe (thanks, Joe!), some lovely tea and cake people, and booksellers from the independent bookshop Jaffe & Neale
John and I also performed with Paul Stickland and bookseller wife Helen in a First Draft gig at the Town Hall, which was well attended and a huge amount of fun! (despite my terror that I would forget all the chords and all the words to most of the songs)
And to top it all off, I got to know two celebrities on Saturday night!
Thanks to everyone involved in the festival for making it such a fun experience and worth all the work involved (and there was a LOT, let me tell you!). Thanks also to our fab young Junior Reporters, Pheebs (who wrote loads of articles for the festival blog) and Mango (not his real name, though I had to stop myself calling him that all weekend! He runs the Mango Bubbles Book Blog, which you should totally check out), not to mention their mums, Sue and Louise, who were totally supportive of everything and deserve medals 🙂
And finally thanks to John Dougherty and Milly Weaver, who formed the other two-thirds of the children’s programming team!
Massive congratulations to Jenny Dee, Festival Organiser, for such a successful festival. I hope you’ve got a well-deserved break now!