The Hay Festival Not-Vlog Day 1

So. I'm sure it hasn't escaped your knowledge that I'm not a vlogger.

There are many reasons for this. I like writing things. I'm absolutely, utterly awkward on camera. But most importantly, vlogging is difficult. I've attempted it exactly once and it did not go anywhere near well. How on earth do you vlogging folks do it?

Today, however, I am doing something that I would have wanted to vlog, if I was a vlogger. I'm going to the Hay Festival, which is basically Disneyland for bookworms. It's absolutely fricking incredible - a ten-day long literary festival packed with the UK's most talented and brilliant authors, held in a field near a Welsh border town which has so many bookshops in it it's called "the town of books".

It literally even says so on the town sign.
Anyway, I really wanted to document this for you guys, so I've created a new kind of format. A not-vlog, if you will. Basically, everything that follows was typed on my phone at the festival, along with some brilliantly terrible smartphone photography. Which you're dying to see, I'm sure. I've inserted the odd GIF and a few interjections in italics, but other than that I haven't edited anything for the sake of organic-ness.

Good luck, my friends.


Juno Dawson is hosting my first talk, which I'm mightily looking forward to because ... you know. Juno is queen. She's talking about Margot and Me, her latest book, which should be interesting - although I haven't technically read it yet?

Shh. Don't tell anyone. I'm sure it'll be fine.

16:33 - Made it! Popped to the bookshop (which is massive, you guys) to pick up both of Juno's new books before the talk - this is a really important tip if you want to save time at a signing, so take note - and was pleasantly surprised to see a huge display for Lisa Williamson's All About Mia.


(I was going to insert a nice video showing just how big this bookshop is, but it has people's faces in and apparently I was also holding my phone upside down. Oops. Just trust me - it was big.)
16:45 - The parental has found a famous backgammon player (she likes that sort of thing). Pretending I know what they're talking about is getting sort of exhausting.

17:22 - So ... apparently the Starlight Stage is called the Starlight Stage because it has stars.
This is the ceiling, BTW. Sorry if it wasn't clear.
19:57 - Okay, sorry I went dark for an hour or two there (I wasn't about to use my phone in the presence of Queen Juno, and then there was food. I got a little distracted.)

Anyway, as predicted the talk was properly fascinating - although if I'm honest I could listen to her talk about wardrobes and fangirl endlessly. And I got a chance to read the first few chapters of M&M in the line, so I was prepared. Ish.

Also (while repeating my apologies for the terrible photography) LOOK AT MY LOVELY SIGNED BOOKSIES!
At the signing, I was predictably awkward and spent my entire precious signing-time rambling about my name and how people mispronounce it constantly. Gosh dammit, Lara, you're supposed to talk about the AUTHOR in these situations!

Thank you, Juno, for being so understanding in the face of my weirditude. (SHH IT'S TOTALLY A WORD)

Anyhow, I then had to go to the toilet. Which can be a bit of a tribulation at portaloo-type situations like these, but the access was fricking incredible - they had a normal slightly larger portaloo, a nicer-looking baby change one, AND a high dependency unit. With hoist!

I'd just like to take this moment to announce how blooming awesome Hay is for access. They have carpeted walkways EVERYWHERE, so wheel to muddy field contact is zero, presenters are always conscious about reading every slide they have behind them for visually impaired folks, and it's just generally incredibly well organised.

And now - in case you were unsure about just how much I love Ms Dawson - I'm off to her Gender Games talk. Come on, I'm barely obsessed.


(I just realised how much I contradicted myself there. Ah, well. My life always has been a ball of juxtaposition.)

21:31 - This talk was of course equally hilarious and amazing and important so I just thought I'd give you some highlights. I'm writing this out from memory, so I might be paraphrasing unintentionally.

Things that were said:

[on Piers Morgan] "don't tweet him about this; I don't want him to know I'm giving him the oxygen"

"This was not a museli school, if you know what I mean. Pupils got stabbed ... with afro combs, so you know. That's a way to sneak a weapon into a school."

"And they knew there was a trans girl at school, but they were kind of like ... yeah, she's in Year Nine, I don't know which one she is ... and now I've been stabbed."

[on choosing her name] "but most importantly, @junodawson was available on Twitter, so ... that underscore in @james_dawson was the bane of my life, seriously."

"Have you checked your privilege today? Do it now ... mmm, tingly!"
22:07 - We're on the way home. I'm kind of tired now, so I think I'll be clocking out - I know today's been pretty Juno oriented, but I promise I'm listening to some other authors tomorrow, so you should get some variety.

Also, I think I'm getting ice cream. So stay tuned for that, obviously.

In the comments: Did you guys like this? Please tell me, because I might bury this method of blogging as quickly as possible after tomorrow - but if you like it, I might also do a mini version at YALC this year. Also, what flavour of ice cream do you think I got? All to be revealed!
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  1. DUDE! You have vanished for a while there, Lara. Nice to hear from you again. I laughed about the parental and backgammon, because that is just so cute. Questions: it's a 10-day thing, right? So, every day, there's different author signing? And, what kinds of books are there usually? YA? Or a mix?
    *hugs* I MISSED YOUR BLOG!

    1. DUDE! Sorry for vanishing but life got insane. Also, cute? Me? *blushes*

      Answers: Yeah, Hay is 10 days, but I only went for two - and there are way more than one author a day signing. Since there are maybe ten tents and five to six talks a day (totally making up the numbers there) I'd say they have fifty odd signings a day - some small, some massive. It's a mix of fiction and non fiction but there's definitely a lot of YA going on - I always find there's too many events I want to go to and not enough time!

      *hugs back* I MISSED YOU!

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  3. YOU WERE IN WALES!!!!!!!!! ;)

    I need to visit Hay @ some point. I can't afford the festival, but they have Christmas fairs there in Nov/Dec, and book shops all year round, so it's def. a place I wanna go to!

    1. OH YEAH WALES! I loved it, seriously. I understand why you're such a proud Welshperson a little more now.

      You SO need to visit Hay. It's incredible - and I didn't know about the Christmas fair thing! Looks like I'm going to be visiting again soon ...
      (BTW, I can imagine the travel costs are bigger at Hay time and it's harder to book hotels etc etc, but you don't have to pay an entry fee at Hay. So if you wanted to go in just for book signings and the atmosphere, then you totally could - it's only the talks you'd miss.)

  4. How do I live in the UK and not know this exists?!?
    Great post! I want to visit the humongous bookshop!


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