I’m currently on a plane, flying home from the most wonderful few days at my very first international literary festival, in Dubai.
In amongst all the book stuff, I’ve ridden on a camel, wandered through spice souks and met lots of amazing new people. But the thing I will remember the most about the Dubai Literary festival is the overwhelming passion for books – especially children’s books. The signing queues were phenomenally long but no one complained – there was a buzz of excitement in the air, as though there was nothing there would rather be doing. Stories were the stars of the show and authors were the ringmasters; there was glamour and magic in the air. But above all, there was happiness and love for books. There was a whole wall filled with enthusiastic Post-it note comments from children who’d attended.
(Photo to follow – some things are slower in the air!)
It was such an honour to be part of it and to celebrate the power of stories. They allow us to travel in time, live whole lifetimes that are not ours and experience impossibilities we could only otherwise dream of. And since today is International Women’s Day, it’s worth saying that I was particularly pleased to see equality was often mentioned throughout my time in Dubai as something everyone saw as vitally important.
I’ve tucked memories of all this away in my head, to take out when I’m struggling with a story and remind myself why I write: for readers, wherever they may be, because books open minds.