With only 5 days (120 hours) to go to EIBF, there’s no better time for a dip into the archives of years gone by for my own personal highlights. This will be my tenth EIBF and as you can imagine, I have screeds and screeds of notes and memories. Yet picking a top 5 wasn’t that difficult. The special moments stand out.
1) 2003 I’ve raided the microfiche for this pre-blog memory. My first ever EIBF event with Michael Collins promoting Lost Souls, the novel I like best and the one he rates the least (it’s too commercial). I remember the absolute exhilaration of standing in a signing queue and being able to speak to him afterwards. I obviously didn’t know the ropes because I had no camera with me. Even worse, rookie that I was, I gushed and came on all fan-girl. I don’t think I calmed down for days afterwards. Of course, I’m much cooler now. Which leads us to
2) 2008 and the moment I was very embarrassed but thankfully no-one realised. Andrew Sean Greer called me on the question I had decided to ask him. (Lesson learnt – I’ve never revealed my intentions since!)
3) Best reading: Well this is a tie from 2008. Janice Galloway turned up and performed as a 1950′s dolly bird. Sebastian Barry also stole the show performing as Roseanne McNullty from The Secret Scripture. Incidentally this event produced the best audience comment ever: “Sebastian, I would love to buy your book afterwards, but you’ll have to come home with it!”. (It wasn’t me. Remember, by 2008, I was a seasoned festivaller.)
4) 2011 Last year’s finale was definitely the most spectacular event ever when 19 authors (including A L Kennedy, Ian Rankin, and Will Self)performed the world premier reading of Alaistair Gray’s Fleck.
5) Best event ever? Surprisingly easy to call. 2008 (again!):The moment when Toibin met McGrath forgot about the chairperson, the audience and bantered author to author as only best mates can.
Now that has surprised me. It seems that, for me, 2008 set the standard for quality events. Weather-wise I’m hoping for a 2010 – the year the festival began and ended in glorious sunshine. What are you hoping for in 2012?