SATURDAY 27 APRIL
Saturday – and I go for broke with as many events as I can physically get to.
A Very Short Introduction (VSI) to Typography – fascinating ideas about how to structure text so that the mind can organise information quickly (something that I evidently need). Half an hour like all VSIs but an informative and engaging half-hour at that!
VSIs are well worth going to, as a tip to newbies, because (from past experience) you CANNOT magically transport across town (unless it is the same venue) for two events back to back over two hours. You usually have to alternate events…except VSIs are usually from quarter-past to quarter-to for most hour slots, meaning you can have a full event, fit in a quick VSI and hop on to the next event with only five to ten minutes of inactivity (or grabbing a snack!) between each talk.
New Voices – an interview with three excellent debut authors, Candice Carty-Williams, Elizabeth Macneal and my good friend Anne Youngson, about their awesome first books, Queenie, The Doll Factory and Meet Me at the Museum, respectively. New Voices is a staple of ChipLitFest and a great event, since each author introduces their book and gives a little detail on what it is about, their writing process and their thoughts, feelings or motivations surrounding it. It’s like literary speed dating and it’s amazing. I usually go to this event and this year’s one did not disappoint; the books had great premises, the interviewer maximised opportunity for the authors and the writers themselves were greatly entertaining and engaging with varied viewpoints.
My Saturday at ChipLitFest continued with Modern Life. Marina Benjamin spoke about her book, giving an insight into what living with insomnia feels like whilst Vybarr Cregan-Reid explained how his book, Primate Change (I really loved the pun, btw), researched not how we affect the environment but how the environment affects us. I really enjoyed their event as it blended a poetic view of the human mind with a scientific study of the body. In fact, I was so interested that I ended up buying both books! Did you know that myopia is an adaptation to light levels? Guess I’m adapted to the environment then. I’ll outlive all of you in natural selection.
Next, VSI to Medical Ethics – a godsend for my RE A level (pun not intended). Incredibly interesting look at the role ethics plays in the medical world, with hypothetical case studies and an evaluation of the different ways ethics has to adapt as new medical discoveries are made. Enjoyable beyond my studies.
Varjak Paw – I’ve met SF Said before and he was as lovely as ever, entertaining the kids at the ACE Centre; an ideal venue for children’s literary events. He discussed some personal stories of the difficulties he had had in breaking into the writing industry and how he eventually overcame them, despite years of doubt and rejection. It was an inspiration for aspirational writers such as myself, especially in the presence of his three incredibly successful published books and an audience of excited children who evidently loved reading them. One shot his hand up as soon as SF first asked if anyone had read Varjak Paw. (I think he was very much an ardent fan.)
By the way, the children’s events at ChipLitFest are absolutely fantastic – they always have authors that appeal to different age groups, covering a range of genres, and every one of them always makes the event interesting for the attending adults too (there were quite a few giggles and questions from the seated parents at the back!). SF Said’s event was, of course, no exception to this.
VSI to Reading – I managed to join up with my dad for this one and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The speaker looked at the history of reading, pointing out some interesting facts, for example, where there has been prejudice against women reading. There were so many curious questions at the end building on what had already been said and extending the session that – unusually but annoyingly - we had to leave to avoid being late to the next event.
Last talk of the day for me – Born Lippy with Jo Brand – was a brilliant end to Saturday’s events. Back in the Theatre, I laughed at her humorous anecdotes and wicked turn of phrase and cringed at the sexism she had faced in the TV industry. Despite describing how she had to face down some pretty horrific double standards and abuse about her physical appearance, she maintained a fantastic discourse with Lissa Evans, interviewing, that remained relatively light and often twisted into the hilarious. The applause at the end was suitably loud and appreciative. I have to say that her ‘party conversation-starters’ that she read from her book really stuck with me – my favourite was “I’ve just got out of prison, have you?”