My first workshop was for children aged 6+, and based around my Pooch Parlour series. I had a fantastic audience of really interested and imaginative children, which always makes these things more fun. First they gathered round to hear me read the first chapter of Pooch Parlour VIP, and then we talked about characters, animals and making up stories.
Mostly, we talked about the power of ‘What If?’ and how every good story starts there. Together, we came up with some hilarious stories about taking aliens to the zoo, and an animal hotel with a stream running through it, and bedrooms decorated to match each animal’s coat!
One of my favourite parts of the Pooch Parlour workshop is always the fairy godmother section – what would you wish for, if you had a fairy godmother for the day? I think the workshop at Hay gave me some of my best answers ever: “I’d wish for everyone who didn’t have a home to have a home,” and “I’d wish for everyone in the world to have fun!”
Afterwards, we had a fab crafting session at the back of the room, with everyone decorating their own Lulu mask for a group photo at the end. Every single one came out different, with feathers, glitter and pompoms flying everywhere. I loved them all!
The following day, I did a talk in the Starlight Stage for 11+ all about how I write stories – called How To Bake A Book. (Or, how writing a story is like baking Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sort of.)
The theory goes that, just as you have ingredients, equipment and a method to follow when you’re baking, there are certain components you need to craft your story. But just like baking, when your mix only turns into cookies or cake in the oven, your story only really comes to life when you write it!
We had a great question and answer session after, and then I did a book signing in the festival bookshop. It was lovely to hear from people who had already read and enjoyed the book – as well as people buying it to read next!
Of course, there was a lot more going on at Hay this year than just my talks. Little Miss and I were lucky enough to see Kristina Stevenson (and her son and daughter!) performing the latest Sir Charlie Stinkysocks adventure, complete with puppets, props and songs. Little Miss is still singing Green Bean Soup four days later. My husband got to see a couple of scientific talks, and chat with some eminent scientists over breakfast, too!
On Saturday morning, we all got to see the incomparable Julia Donaldson – celebrating the Gruffalo’s 15th birthday in great style. It was a wonderful way to finish the festival before we had to head home.
The Hay Fever or kids part of the Hay festival is a brilliant idea, and Little Miss loved it every bit as much as I did. From the songs and stories to the make and take tent, it was a wonderful way to spend our half term. I can’t thank the festival team enough for inviting me, or my publisher for suggesting me. And huge thanks too Ruth and Laura from Stripes for coming all the way to Hay to support me, along with my always brilliant agent, Gemma.