Edinburgh Book Festival: Words and Pictures

08 Aug

I’m massively excited to announce I’m going to be storytelling in the Edinburgh International Book Festival with award-winning cartoonist Stephen Collins. It’s a team effort, he draws and I talk. We’re a dynamic duo.

At least that’s what I’m hoping we’ll be after we practice on Skype next week. He lives in Herefordshire so we won’t meet for real until the day of the performance. Yep I know, a little scary but also an exciting challenge (breathe Emily, breathe!). Speaking of which I’d love for you to join us on:

Saturday 24th August, 9pm, Unbound, The Spiegaltent, EIBF, Charlotte Square (FREE)

We’re one of several writer illustrator duos performing in ten minute slots at Illicit Ink’s Graphic Fiction Spectacular at Unbound. You might have seen Stephen’s work, he has a weekly comic in The Guardian Weekend and a monthly comic in Prospect magazine. His debut graphic novel is about a giant evil beard:


A First Time for Everything

It’s my first time appearing in Edinburgh Book Festival and my first time performing live with a cartoonist. I’ve appeared (keep thinking it sounds like a magic trick) in the West Port Book Festival (2011) and Portobello Book Festival (2012) but never with an illustrator. This is my third book festival appearance OF ALL TIME. I’m a newbie.

The only thing I’ve done that’s similar in terms of live creation of words and pictures is smartboard storytelling is schools.I draw a story on the smartboard as I tell it to the children. I’ve noticed they are most forgiving of my drawing ability (or lack of it). I once sketched a forest and I heard a small child whisper “she’s amazing!”. I can’t wait to see a professional cartoonist in action. I’ll most likely be whispering “he’s amazing!” just like those kids.

What Story Will We tell?

I can’t decide if I should improvise a story by taking suggestions from the audience or do a pre prepared story. Obviously I’d still write a script for sections of an improvised story – I’m aware you need to practice to improvise well. I love working with an audience to create something together. The other option I’ve been thinking about is a to read part of a new story I’ve been working on over this summer about an otter who’s an artist. He’s a little different to his Mum and brothers (he creates shell pictures and poops in perfect pyramids!). It’s for 6 – 9 year olds but it’s pretty magical and is all about the purpose of art and other people’s perception of it so the themes would be relevant. I’ll see what Stephen thinks but any suggestions in the comments below would be useful.


Everybody Yurts… Sometimes

One thing I’m really looking forward to is the delights of the authors yurt. Free drinks, food and magazines. I’m actually allowed in there by myself (last year I was a plus one). This year I may even take my own plus one….


If you like free book festival things (who doesn’t) a buddy from my writers group, Louise Kelly is appearing at Storyshop in the Spiegaltent at 4pm on the 24th. Do go and see her, it will be good!

Neil Gaiman

Another reason to visit the Book Festival on the 24th is to see Neil Gaiman talking about his latest story ‘Fortunately, the Milk‘. I’ve got tickets (hurrah!) and I’m hoping there’s a chance I’ll see him in the authors yurt earlier that day. Then maybe later (you never know) he might recognise me at his show and later still perhaps I’ll make a bad joke about the milk in the authors yurt (see what I did there) and at that point he’ll ask me what I’m up to in the festival and I’ll tell him all about that night’s Unbound and then, with him being a fan of graphic fiction…

NEIL HIMSELF will be in the audience. Perhaps in disguise wearing a giant evil beard!

I cannot guarantee Neil Gaiman will appear in the crowd at Unbound on the 24th August, this is entirely fantasy and speculation. But he might be there.


Posted by on August 8, 2013 in Events, Media, storytelling, Writing


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3 responses to “Edinburgh Book Festival: Words and Pictures

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