The Edinburgh Book Festival begins

Stripped at the Edinburgh Book Festival 02
Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited again to the launch party for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and this year the world’s biggest literary festival celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. This year there is a huge and very diverse comics strand, Stripped. There have been comics and graphic novel for a good few years and I’ve been along to cover them and report on them, but this is on a vastly larger scale, practically a mini festival within the main festival. There are author talks, workshops, school outreach programmes, events for adults, event for kids, the new Ninth Art Awards and even a free mini-comics event for the small press, Indy self-published comickers to show their wares at this huge event.

Edinburgh Book Festival 2012 launch party 01
(above: the band entertaining us at the Book Festival’s swish launch party last night in Charlotte Square;below, locally based comics creators Will Morris (left) and Edward Ross (right) at the launch party last night, both of them will be taking part in the author events as part of Stripped)
Edinburgh Book Festival 2012 launch party 02

I’ve helped out a little with contacts and suggestions over the months leading up to the festival, as well as helping them with content celebrating some of the writers and artists who will be attending, with the Forbidden Planet blog sharing some of our guest posts by creators with the Stripped blog, and I am really delighted at the diversity and range of events the organisers like Roland, Janet, Kirsten and others have put together (a huge, huge effort). I’m off to my first event later this week, although the bulk of the comics events I’m going to take place over the weekend at the end of August. As well as covering several of the events I will be chairing a couple of author talks this year and looks like I may be doing an interview or two as well. Been a while since I did an on-stage author event, so hoping my old events mojo is still in there somewhere! Sure it will be fine.

Edinburgh Book Festival 2012 launch party 04
(above, EIBF director Nick Barley introducing this year’s book fest; below, to mark the 30th anniversary the EIBF’s original director Jenny Brown took to the stage at the launch party)
Edinburgh Book Festival 2012 launch party 05

And of course the rest of the Book Festival carries on around it, with some 800 authors present over a couple of weeks, the place for book lovers. Sadly one of our regular fixtures at the Book Fest, the great Iain Banks, will not be there this year. He hoped to still be strong enough to read from his new – and sadly now final – novel this summer, but even that was denied to him when his condition took him even faster than any of us thought it could, but several of his friends and fellow writers such as Ian Rankin and Ken MacLeod will be standing up for him at that event. There’s also some nice little touches so Iain is still present in spirit at the Book Festival, such as these terrific literary deckchairs their partners at the Guardian have had made up, featuring quotes from Iain’s work.

rest your literary bottom and think

You can read a short interview I did with one of the Book Festival’s organisers, Janet Smyth, about the comics strand Stripped over on the (recently relaunched and rather shiny new-look) Forbidden Planet Blog here.