How do writers of children’s books meet their readers during a pandemic?
irishtimes.com – Tuesday March 9, 2021
On March 12th last year I was sitting in a blustery, empty car park in Blackpool, Lancashire, eating a bland prepacked sandwich beside a giant mural of Barry from The Chuckle Brothers. I was feeling pretty good about myself.
Sure, school closures had just been announced and the St Patrick’s Festival (at which I had an author event) had been cancelled, but I’d just finished a school talk about my children’s books. It had been the last of a four-day book tour of England and my 39th author event in 40 days.
Irish events included every Dublin city library, several bookshops, a delightfully raucous event with illustrator Ben Mantle at Liberty Hall Theatre, a school in the Dublin Mountains, classes of kids spread out on the floor of O’Mahony’s Booksellers in Limerick, a packed-out art workshop in the Hugh Lane Gallery, a lot of M50 miles, a couple of flights, and a handful of hotel breakfast buffets I now regret not taking full advantage of.
It had been exceptionally busy, but still just about within the range of expectations when you write books for children. I had done hundreds of events over the preceding years, to audiences as high as 700 and as low as one (there had been a mix-up, I was assured). This is the life of writers for every age and genre, in fact. Talking about writing is how we meet readers, promote books, seek inspiration, find ideas and – crucially – earn income.
Eating my lunch on my lap in the Blackpool car park before heading to the flight home felt like the beginnings of decompression. Sure, festivals were in wait-and-see mode – the whole country was – but the timescale seemed short enough. What was the worst that could happen?
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