Last year I was lucky enough to attend two amazing evenings, organised by Essex Book Festival (Alexander McCall Smith and Jodi Picoult). They were fantastic events and I could not wait for the March 2013 listings to be announce. I was not disappointed.
My mother and I once again decided to chose one evening each. My mum chose, the hugely talented Sandi Toksvig. I have many childhood memories of Sandi T being on our television screens and related to her more for the comedy and presenting accolades she has built up over the years. What I did not know was she is author of 25 books as well.
Unsurprisingly there was not a spare seat in the auditorium and she made her entrance with her trade mark 'Heloo' to riotous applause that took some time to quite down. The evening was loosely based on a question and answer format with a host but was still free flowing and fluid. Even when she was trying not to be funny she had the audience chortling away just with the natural way she delivered her answers.
Along with her incredible ability to make people laugh, was the thoughtful and eloquent way she described the research for her new book; Valentine Grey. She openly admits that she did far too much research than required but my gosh, she remembers every detail.
When the floor was thrown open to questions many were raised in relation to the historical period in which Valentine Grey is set (1897 - British Victorian and The Boer War) and she could answer absolutely everyone. Even one about Bicycle Brigades role in the War!
It was really quite a marvel to be in the presence of someone who was so funny and yet so sensitive. It makes me dislike the 'comedians' who can only seemingly tap in on those that are 'different' or try to make fun of people by being crude.
The final thing Sandi left the audience with was the answer to the question 'Do you find writing lonely?' Answer : No far from it, I am in the company of my fabulous characters! And 'Do you like Twitter?' Answer : No, if I want to leave a short message for anyone that gives a crap I leave a post it on the fridge!
On Monday 18 March we will be attending our second evening, which again this year will be quite different from our first. Jo Wheatley, winner of The Great British Bake Off 2011, will be talking about her book and whipping up something scrumptious from it. I will let you know what it is in my next 'An Evening With...' post.