writing

Reeve & McIntyre of Arabia

One night last week I was having dinner with some other writers, and one of them was complaining about the way writers are portrayed in movies. ‘They always make it look like such a glamorous life…’ she said. Just then she was drowned out by the booming music of Arabic dance hit Shik Shak Shok and the roar of water as the biggest fountain in the world went off, just a few yards from the restaurant balcony where we were sitting. We were in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, and between the plumes of the fountains we could see the glittering windows of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man made structure on the planet…

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(That’s Carnegie Medal winner Sally Gardner watching the fountains!)

Mostly, of course, being a writer really isn’t glamorous. You sit in a little room and wait for ideas to come, then write them down. But my life has become 100% more glamorous since I started working with Sarah McIntyre. Now we both sit in little rooms waiting for ideas to come, and if they don’t turn up we Skype each other and talk about it. And somehow or other, we create books together, from our joint ideas, and my words, and Sarah’s pictures. And then we get to go to literary festivals and do shows about our books! (Actually we met at a literary festival – at Edinburgh, back in 2011 – which is how we started working together).

There are lots of such festivals, and they’re a great place for writers to meet readers, and readers to meet writers, and writers to meet other writers. Until this year I’d only ever been to festivals in the UK and Ireland. I don’t like travelling, and it never seemed worth the effort of going half way round the world just to sit and talk about my latest novel. But now that I’m one half of Reeve and McIntyre I don’t just sit and talk any more – we dress up, we act out bits of our book, Oliver and the Seawigs. Sarah does drawings, the audience do drawings, and we all sing the Sea Monkey song. So when we were invited to Dubai by the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature we both jumped at the chance. Here we are on stage, captured by audience member Rupert Bumfrey:

The festival takes place in a big Dubai hotel, and it’s really busy. We met loads of eager young readers, and signed lots of copies of our books. The festival isn’t just for children’s authors – there were lots of famous writers, poets and journalists there – but I think we children’s authors still managed to make a splash…

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And when we weren’t on stage, the lovely festival organisers made sure we had plenty to do. We were shown around the city, and even went out into the desert, zooming over the dunes in big 4x4s. And we met camels! Here’s Sarah with hers. She thought it really liked her, but I think it was just after her drink…

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Here’s Francesca Simon, author of the Horrid Henry books, who was one of the stars of the festival.

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After the camel rides there was a falconry display, and the sun set over the desert, and there was poetry under the stars in a kind of valley in the dunes, and dinner in Bedouin tents.

Yes, writers really don’t lead very glamorous lives at all – but sometimes, if we’re lucky, just for a few days, they can be very, very glamorous indeed!

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Huge thank yous to the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature for inviting us. If you’d like to read more about our adventures, Sarah has written about it on her own blog, which is where I found all these photos.

5 thoughts on “Reeve & McIntyre of Arabia

  1. The life of a visiting author usually involves running for trains to Essex while trying not to scald your hand with magma-hot coffee, getting lost in schools when you’ve been directed to the staff toilet and finding your favourite purple signing pen has erupted over copies of your new book. Yours didn’t sound much like that. Ha! :c)

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