Portobello and West Port – book festival frenzy

Photo by Sonja Bettina Klein

I love living in Edinburgh, so much so I’ve never really managed to live anywhere else (yet). Sometimes that makes me feel a little ashamed, especially knowing as many fabulous people from around the world as I do, but then times like the last few months roll around and I remember one of the things that’s so great about this city – its festivals.

From the International Book festival in August – where I was thrilled to take part in Story Shop – to the two local and enthusiastic efforts that brighten up a dreary October – The Portobello Book Festival and the West Port Book Festival.

Both of these are run by teams of very friendly and dedicated book lovers, and it’s wonderful to see the support they pick up locally. I’ve been running around so much recently, trying to get organised that I’ve not had time to write about either of these excellent festivals in more detail, but here are a few of my highlights.

  • Giving a talk on paperless Publishing in Portobello Library, where I used to weekly max out my lending capabilities when I was but a kid. I’m also planning on putting up the hand out of useful links I wrote for this, as soon as I have a spare few minutes and the right computer!
  • Speaking to Janice Galloway at the same (I babbled a little, because I do love her work so) and then staying to listen to her in a very entertaining interview later to be on the BBC Book CafĂ© – I do recommend you tune in if you spot it.
  • Taking part in a workshop about writing and publishing (also at Porty) featuring Francis Bickmore, Alan Guthrie – who is soon launching new ebook venture Blasted Heath) and Marianne Paget – most useful and inspirational.
  • Reading as part of the Bugged event in Peter Bell Books at the West Port, where I got to read alongside excellent poets Jo Bell, Rob A. MacKenzie and Helen Addy.
  • Managing to squeeze in to see Rachel Boast and J.O. Morgan at West Port despite not having a ticket, and being blown away – you can check out podcasts of them here.
  • Meeting some fabulous writers and book lovers at all of these events, there are few things I like more.
  • So Edinburgh, I’m not sure I’ll ever leave you at this rate – keep the bookish events coming and you’ve probably got me snagged.

    A Bugged Manchester adventure

    Only a few days after Ink and I returned from our adventure in NYC, it was time for me to set off again – although it was to somewhere slightly closer to home this time.

    Still reeling from the flight and holiday fun, I grabbed my good friend and we boarded a Megabus (I’m sorry for that 5am start by the way) bound for Manchester. After a not very pleasant journey and a distinct lack of sleep – especially as I hadn’t managed to drop off at all before leaving – we arrived a little bleary eyed and ready to drink a lot of coffee before hunting down the City Library, where I was reading as part of the Bugged book launch.

    After much walking in circles, we made it and in plenty of time to run off and eat some veggie fried breakfasts. While this was decidedly tasty, it was perhaps not the best choice for someone who was feeling a little nervous about her second ever public reading. Luckily, I got over the nausea and we made it back to the library in time to find all of the other readers and a nice selection of listeners ready to enjoy the event.

    Lynsey May reading at Bugged Launch in ManchesterHaving already read most of the Bugged pieces online already, I was expecting a pretty high standard overall. Everyone lived up to my expectations – even though a few of the folks were giving their first readings – and it was cool to be a part of it. A big thanks to Jo Bell for her enthusiasm and also to her and co-editor David Calcutt for putting the project together.

    Once it was over, we joined a group of readers and retired to a nearby cafe for yet more coffee, and grilled people for suggestions for our one and only night in Manchester. Typically, the locals struggled (the same thing happens to me, even though everywhere I look I’m surrounded by pubs here in Edinburgh) but we lucked into a great restaurant and some memorable places to drink.

    The night was packed with silly posing and photo taking (Bugged pics courtesy of the lovely Martha – who is showing us her oneness with the medium of TV) and we filled the next day shopping and seeing Despicable Me (which was SO CUTE and lovely) before catching the bus back to Edinburgh. Overall, we decided we liked Manchester a lot and I’m really glad the Bugged reading inspired me to take the trip – yay for literature.

    Short story in the Bugged files

    After a very, very busy weekend, the last thing I wanted to do was come to work today – especially as I have to go and give a training presentation in London tomorrow, boo – but my Monday morning has taken a turn for the better.

    Earlier this summer I noticed an interesting looking creative writing project on WordPress – Bugged – and have been following it and trying to find time to submit since. I finally managed to get something in last week, and today I found it’s up on the Bugged site as part of the August 15 collection. Mine is At A Price, go have a look and check out the other cool bits of poetry and prose for the day.