Singing stars and a stegosaurus

25 Aug

Yesterday I performed for the first time at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Yesterday Neil Gaiman drew a stegosaurus in my copy of ‘Fortunately the Milk’.

Yesterday was a good day. I’ve blogged it in pictures with a few bullet points, so I don’t forget..

This is me (left) and my Canadian friend Nancy (right). She’s dressed as an author but she’s actually a six-foot pilot:


This is Neil Gaiman speaking about writing and his latest book (I was on the front row!):


He said some wonderful things including

Stories help us make sense of our lives. They give us empathy. They offer escape. They last.

I definitely think it’s really healthy to scare children. I remember watching Doctor Who, petrified behind the sofa..

One day there will be another episode of Doctor Who. It’s the nearest to being God I’ve ever experienced..

This is him signing my book (YAY!):

IMG_20130824_164232And a Stegosaurus:



Later on that evening I’m up on the stage with the wonderful cartoonist Stephen Collins:


I was reading part of a story I’ve been writing for children about an otter called Bhram who’s an artist. But really the story is grown ups too, it’s about why art isn’t just useful… it’s essential.

I got the audience to draw fish, grass, raindrops and stars before we started and they joined in during parts of the story. Here a picture of the rain drops (thanks to Graphic Scotland for the pic) in action just after I read:

He noticed the way raindrops made perfect circular patterns when they landed, plop! in the rock pools.


An arc of tables round the back did a mexican grass wave just after I read

He watched the wind as it blew through the long grass and made waves just like the waves on the ocean.

Four tables drew fish we got the fish to swim one way, turn and swim back just after I read

He was wondering how the shoal was able to turn so quickly from one way to the other with every fish perfectly in time with all the rest.

And the stars didn’t just shine, they sang!

This is Stephen’s picture of the story when we finished. I loved the way he built it up all on one piece of paper (thanks to Graphic Scotland for the pic). Yes that’s a puffin and a perfect pyramid poo (or spraint) below his pen:

final panel

It was marvellous to work with Stephen and be part of the Illicit Ink and Graphic Scotland event ‘Tales from the Strip’ at Unbound. You can see pictures of all the brilliant artists who performed that evening on the storify here (it’s a story created from the tweets written during the event, it’s worth checking out even if you don’t do twitter!).

At the end of the day what did I take away?

  • a bottle of Jura whisky with a glass and notebook (thanks to the Jura Unbound team)
  • a check (thanks to the Book Festival)
  • inspiration and a stegosaurus (thanks to Neil Gaiman)
  • a picture of Bhram the artist otter (thanks to Stephen Collins)

And a smile thanks to people like:

  • Chris Scott the ever encouraging photographer
  • Babs the event organiser
  • Friends who came along to see me
  • Stephen and his lovely wife Hannah

I can’t forget the lovely audience. The raindrops, grass, fish and stars who made it all so magical. I loved it when you stars sang like.. well stars!

I wrote a bit about this event before it happened here. It includes more about Stephen and his book ‘The Gigantic Beard that was Evil’.


Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Events, storytelling, Writing


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

8 responses to “Singing stars and a stegosaurus

  1. Katie Smith

    August 25, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    Yay! I’m so glad it went well Ems, great to read (and see!) all about it. I LOVE the picture of Bhram that Stephen created too! So proud of you, just sorry I couldn’t actually be in Edinburgh to see the performance. Well, there’s always next year! I’m sure you’ll be back. 😉 Kates xx

    • auntyemily

      August 25, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks loads Kates! Just heard that Stephen won the 9th Art Award at the Book Festival this evening for his book ‘The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil’. How cool is that? x

  2. David Bishop

    August 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Best of all, you now have a Stephen Collins original to frame. [And a Gaiman.]

  3. auntyemily

    August 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks David! Good to catch up with you over the weekend (:

  4. EdinburghSketcher (@edinsketcher)

    August 27, 2013 at 10:26 am

    This is such a lovely post. I only wish I was there to see it performed, and take part. Well done and I hope to see you on stage some time soon 🙂

    • auntyemily

      August 28, 2013 at 10:31 am

      Thanks, I think you’d be great at something like this! (:


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