Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Hay Diaries Part 2 ....

Friday 3rd June part 1: Mumbling at a dame

11:30am – In a big tent
Am definitely in the right place. Everyone is a girl. Everyone has a Jacqueline Wilson book. I am very excited.

Once they’d seated Jacqueline’s legions of fans-o’clock – In a big tent Jacqueline Wilson entered the stage to thunderous applause and plenty of whooping. You only had to look around the audience to see the range of ages she covers. From 8-year-old new fans, to teens, to old girls like me who remember Tracy Beaker when she was first around (along with leggings and Take That).

‘How many of you like writing?’ she asked the audience, and lots of hands shot up. The advice – get notebooks and start writing. She shared her school reports with us – encouraging at primary school, where she was often asked to read her stories to the class. At secondary school her English teacher didn’t seem to see it the same way. Red pen covered Jacqueline’s work, with ?s by any slang and phrases such as ‘I don’t like your tone Jacqueline’ and, hilariously, ‘Highly inappropriate – see me’.

Jacqueline’s route into writing began with a job at DC Thompson on a magazine for teenage girls. They had wanted romantic short stories, but rather than writing about handsome heroes and moonlight kisses, she wrote a story like this: A girl goes to a party, boys ask all her friends to dance and no one asks her. She spends the night nodding her head to the music and taking plenty of trips to the loo to pass the time, before going home, telling her mum she had a great time, getting into bed and crying. It is a classic Jacqueline Wilson tale. Luckily they liked it, and put her on course to write many more.

Via making up horoscopes, how Tracy Beaker avoided being called Tracy Toilet, and seeking out a suitable oak tree in Richmond Park for four children to hide in, we came all too quickly to the end of the talk. Q&A revealed that Jacqueline is most like a mixture of the twins in Double Act, she almost got a tattoo when writing The Illustrated Mum and if she wasn’t an author she would be a second-hand bookshop owner (because ‘nothing is as wonderful as holding a real book’ – said to a huge cheer).

12:30pm-hours later! I meet Jacqueline Wilson – or stare at her and mumble while she signs a book. Still counts.
As always, she stayed and signed books for hours. I had the chance to get a copy of Hetty Feather signed for our fab competition winner
I may have mentioned loudly that I was getting a book signed for someone else, just to ensure it was clear I was an adult. (Being 5ft1 and going to lots of children’s book events means I can often be mistaken for a child…)

It also gave me a chance to chat to some Jacqueline Wilson fans in the queue. Mary, Laura and Ffion were queuing behind me. Mary told me her favourite Jacqueline Wilson book is Girls in Tears, while Laura chose The Longest Whale Song and Ffion went for Cookie. Mary explained what it is about Jacqueline Wilson that her readers love so much. ‘She covers every issue. Reading her books is addictive, because there’s always a really good storyline and you can’t stop reading once you get into it.’ I also met a quartet of Jacqueline Wilson fans – May, Lucy, Laura and Sophie – who told me their favourite of the books.

May: Hetty Feather
Lucy: Diamond Girls
Laura: Best Friends
Sophie: The Worry Website

With different favourites from each person I spoke to, there quite clearly is a Jacqueline Wilson book for everyone. When I finally got to the front of the queue and my big moment came, Jacqueline signed my book and it was my chance to speak to a life-long hero. I said: ‘Thank you! It was…Bye!’

Oh dear.

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