Monday, July 17, 2017

Festivals and Workshops: Edinburgh Festival of Writing

Elaine Roberts brings us another in her interesting series about literary festivals and workshops. This month she interviews Frances Sutton from the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Welcome to the RNA blog, Frances. Can you tell us something about your festival, how it came about and how long its been running?
The Edinburgh International Book Festival started in 1983 with around thirty speakers, this year we will welcome over 1,000 writers and participants from fifty countries to events in Charlotte Square Gardens and George Street.  In 2017 Edinburgh celebrates the 70th anniversary of the first Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and over the last seventy years has become an internationally renowned Festival city – the Book Festival is an integral part of that Festival City.

Who are your main speakers this year?
With over 1000 authors, there are almost too many to mention, but a small selection of highlights would be:
Making his first appearance in Charlotte Square Gardens, bestselling US author Paul Auster discusses the parallel lives of the principal character in his latest novel 4 3 2 1, while fellow American Richard Ford explores the reality of the American Dream in 2017 in conversation with Kirsty Wark. Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie debates the role of women in the world with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; Andrew O’Hagan delivers a keynote lecture on the future of Scotland; Zadie Smith offers an insightful look at the growing pains of young women; comedian Reginald D Hunter joins novelist Tanya Landman to discuss the long shadow slavery casts over the USA and Meik Wiking, Danish author of the bestselling Little Book of Hygge and CEO of Copenhagen’s Happiness Research Institute, launches his new book over a cosy afternoon tea.

As our blog is for writers can you tell me how your festival would benefit our members?
Audiences at the Book Festival get to not only listen to authors, but also to participate in debates and discussions across the programme.  Almost every event offers an opportunity for members of the audience to ask questions of the speaker, and every author will sign books and engage in further conversation after their event.  We also run both reading workshops where authors discuss their favourite books with small groups of twenty to twenty five people, and this year our writing workshops return, again for small groups of 20 – 25 participants.

How about staying over for the whole event. Where can people stay?
Edinburgh is a bustling city with a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, B & B’s and hostels, however August is extremely busy with hundreds of thousands of performers, authors, media and audience members coming to the city from all over the world so the recommendation is book early, and don’t leave it till you arrive!

What does it cost to attend?
Entry to the Gardens, cafes and bookshops is free, and tickets for events range from £8.00 (£6.00
concession) to £10.00 (£12.00).  Tickets for writing workshops, which last for 2 hours, are £35.00 (£30.00).

Do workshops and talks fill up quickly?
Spaces for workshops are limited to 20 – 25 participants so yes they do sell out quickly.

How much time does it take to organise the festival?
We will start planning the 2018 Book Festival while the 2017 Festival is taking place, and authors are in town from all over the world.  The hard work starts in September and October and continues through the winter until June when we announce the programme to the press and public.

Dates for this year and 2018:
12 – 28 August 2017
11 – 27 August 2018

Email for queries:

Thank you for taking the time to talk to the RNA blog, Frances. We wish the festival every success.

About Elaine:
Elaine is a member of the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and is currently working on a family saga. She has sold short stories worldwide and enjoys attending RNA events such as the London chapter and our annual conference. Elaine is a great fan of writing retreats either week long by the sea with friends or one-day retreats with fellow writers in her hometown of Dartford. Elaine runs a writing blog along with writer, Francesca Capaldi Burgess called WriteMindWritePlace.

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