Alexander Gordon Smith

Archive for the Category On Tour!

 
 

The Swindon Youth Festival of Literature (Episode 3)!

I’m just back from a fantastic week of events in Swindon – again! It is my third year in a row at the awesome Swindon Youth Festival of Literature. It’s an amazing week of events organised by high school librarians across the city, and is seriously one of the best festivals of its kind in the world. Thanks to the festival countless authors – including Darren Shan, Derek Landy, Charlie Higson, Patrick Ness (and ME, of course) – have visited Swindon schools, bringing the excitement of books and reading and writing to thousands of students. It is always a HUGE pleasure to be a part of this festival, and 2013 was no different!

This year I visited three schools over three days: Nova Hreod (no, I couldn’t pronounce it either…) on Tuesday, Commonweal School (no, there isn’t supposed to be a ‘th’ at the end of Commonweal, I checked) on Wednesday, and Isambard on Thursday. All were seriously awesome events. It’s amazing to see how psyched the students are about books – so many love reading, and are already writing their own stories. It goes to show how a festival like this one can change the lives of so many people in a community. It really has made Swindon a city of book lovers.

I also had the pleasure of a night on the town (well, dinner, but it was night time and we were in town, so it still counts) with Fiona and Ali, two of the amazing librarians in charge of the festival, plus fellow authors Ali Sparkes, the Two Steves and poet Ash Dickinson. All in all, an awesome week! Thanks again, guys, for letting me take part, and hopefully see you all next year!!

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One of my favourite photos of the week, mainly because of the expression on the face of the guy to the left! That must be one awesome story he is writing!

Fury (and cake) in Manchester!

I’ve been to pretty much every city in the UK to do events, but Manchester was a very notable exception, so I was thrilled to be able to do a mini-tour up there this week! My girlfriend, Lynsey, went to uni in Manchester and she loved the city (although she did tell me that at some point I’d probably be mugged, which was based on her own experience as a student when she was mugged for a pizza, which I kind of pointed out wasn’t exactly a real mugging…), and I was dying to have a good look around.

The best book shop in Manchester!

My events were all outside of the gorgeous city centre, arranged through the absolutely wonderful folk who run the Urmston Bookshop, Peter and Frances. I just want to give a shout-out to them, because their shop is gorgeous. Amazing books, a great atmosphere, friendly faces, and a cafe that serves homemade cake!!! What more could you ever want? Now, I know that all independent bookshops are great places, but this one is amazing, and well worth a trip. Next time you’re browsing Amazon and you’re about to add something to your basket, head up the road and pop in to Urmston Bookshop instead, you won’t regret it!

My first event was on Tuesday, at Chorlton High School. I even got to perform in their theatre! I followed this up with a horror creative writing workshop for some awesome students. Some fantastic stories, and enough to give me nightmares… Well done, guys! It was great fun, and they rewarded me with chocolate!! I think I may make this my new payment system – don’t worry about the money, just fill a bag with sweeties and I’ll be happy!

CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!

The next morning Peter picked me up and drove me over to the Well Acre Academy, where I did another show for a brilliant audience. Thanks guys! We popped to the book shop for lunch where I got FREE CAKE!!!! Once again, I was a happy man. It’s no wonder I always put on weight when I’m away. We did make up for it with a very healthy lunch before dashing over to the extraordinarily named Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College for the final show of the day. I often worry about doing my talk (guns, explosions, puking, angels that eat people…) at Catholic schools because the teachers sometimes frown at me, but these guys were awesome! Thank you!

That night I went to dinner with Peter, which was lovely. Usually when I’m away I eat alone, unless I know people in the area. And there’s nothing more tragic than a lonely author sitting on his hotel bed watching telly and stuffing his face with a kebab… So anyone reading this who is organising an event for me, hint hint…

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My final show was on Thursday, at the Ashton on Mersey Grammar School. It was another fun event, and more questions than I knew what to do with (I think you lot would have kept asking questions until the end of the month)! I stayed behind for the longest signing of the week, which was nice. It was great to meet you all!

It was a whirlwind trip, but I managed to run around the Imperial War Museum before I had to head home – a fantastic place if you ever have the chance to visit. Then I found the most awesome restaurant on the way to the station. It was a Chinese / Indian / Japanese / BBQ / Italian all-you-can-eat buffet, and I tried pretty much everything! I kind of regretted it on the five-hour train journey home, but in a way it was great because the seat next to mine was the only empty seat for the whole journey…

A huge thanks to all the schools, pupils, teachers and librarians for making me feel so welcome, and to Peter and Frances at the Urmston Bookshop for being awesome. It was great to finally see Manchester, and I’ll be back again soon!

Festival Frenzy!

I’m just back from a couple of days in Dublin for the truly wonderful CBI Festival. I’ll be blogging about it imminently, but until then here’s a roundup of some of the other festivals I was at over the summer!

First up was the Guardian Pop-Up Festival in London, where I ran a zombie workshop. I thought it was a workshop for zombies, so did my best to look the part. But it was actually a spooky creative writing workshop for young writers. Still, it’s always nice to dress up! I even made up a zombie quiz to work out exactly what kind of zombie you are, which was fun. I think I ended up being a demonically possessed zombie who eats nothing but livers and cheese, who travels on the bus, smells worse than a rubbish bin and who spends his days trying and failing to get into the best parties. Which actually sounds a little bit like me…

Livers and Cheese, mmmmmmmmm...

I did a couple of really fun events for the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival, including one in Shakespeare’s old school. How awesome is that! While I was down there I got a chance to look around Warwick Castle, which looks like something out of Game of Thrones. That’s one of the best things about being on tour, you get to do the touristy stuff!

I did have an audience, honest...

Following that I was down in south London for the East Dulwich Literary Festival, which was thoroughly enjoyable, even though I got totally lost and ended up pretty much jogging up the road in the blazing heat to get there on time. I was NOT a pretty sight when I arrived… (There is a picture, but it will give you nightmares.)

I was back in London for Tales From Moon Lane, one of the coolest and most enjoyable events I have ever done. It was organised by the lovely people who run the shop, and the ever-awesome David Maybury and the CBI crew Carrie and Nicola. There were some lovely other authors there too, including Sarah Webb, whose books my daughter absolutely adores. I was originally scheduled to have a cage fight with Derek Landy, but he was running late (if you ask me, he was just a little nervous about facing me so cowered in his limo around the corner for an hour or so until it was safe to come out) so I did the warm-up act in preparation for his main event. It was SO much fun, and great to be able to meet the legend that is Landy. He didn’t seem so pleased to meet me, though (ask me, that’s just a look of terror on his face)!

Is that fear in his eyes...?

Last, and certainly not least, I was back up in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It’s my absolute favourite festival of all time – an amazing city, fantastic people, enthusiastic audiences, the most wonderful atmosphere, and whisky! This year I was doing an event with Susanne Winnacker, author of The Other Life, chaired by the irrepressible Eve Harvey. We had an brilliant audience of about 200 people, and spent a very enjoyable hour chatting about horror, apocalypses, nightmares, and what our plans were for a zombie invasion (mine involved a sledgehammer and a boat, which in retrospect seems like a bad combination). Thanks so much to everyone who came to see us! Oh, and Susanne’s book is great, well worth a read – guns, monsters, conspiracy, and a smidgen of romance, what else could you want? It was so great hanging out in the the author’s yurt before and after the event, especially as there was free booze. Thanks to Janet and Eve and the rest of the festival staff, I love the EIBF so much!

Me, Eve and Susanne!

The absolute best thing about this year’s festival event, though, was that one of my fans travelled all the way up from Manchester to see me. Lizzii even brought me a couple of presents. It was so cool! I sat out in the sun with her and her mum for hours chatting about writing and reading and music and loads of other stuff. Thank you both for coming to see me! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my fans are my heroes. They’re what make this job so amazing. And Lizzii, you’re one of the best! Oh, and I think we agreed officially that she could marry the warden.

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Pure fan-tasticness!

A HUGE thanks to everyone who invited me to do events, I feel so lucky to be able to be a part of so many fantastic festivals!

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