At least, Paula and I had fun; so did Dorothy. But I think the audience enjoyed it too, as reported by Christchurch City Libraries and Bookman Beattie. As for the question about being 'Team Bronte' or 'Team Austen', what I should have said (and only thought of it afterwards, as is usually the case with these things), is that despite Magpie Hall seeming to be an homage to all things Bronte, it also owes an awful lot to that wonderful Jane Austen novel Northanger Abbey. Not only did I name the book after the house in which it is set, Magpie Hall also features a young woman who is so immersed in the world of gothic novels they start to colour her vision of the real world around her. If you haven't read Northanger Abbey, please do.
It is a horrible misfortune that the one year I get a free pass to everything, I could only stay in Auckland for 24 hours, and I had a sick baby with me, so caught very little. Alison Wong and Graham Beattie had a lovely soothing chat to an appreciative crowd (with the prize for the most bizarre and possibly inane question I've heard at a festival: 'Is it customary for Chinese New Zealanders to refer to Europeans as "Pakeha"' - wtf?). And the highlight of the Saturday evening session with William Dalrymple was the kind lady who leaned over and asked me, probably because I was sitting alone near the front, if William Dalrymple was my husband.
From what I saw of it, I have to congratulate the team at the festival once again for another great one, and also for making their authors feel extremely well prepared and cared for, even with such outrageous demands as my own. Next time I have a book out there will be no more babies and I will go to every session and every party and wear lipstick and high heels every day.
Daily Telegraph letter of the month
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