Phewf, what a weekend! Whilst most people back in London were preparing their scones and cucumber sandwiches for Jubilee street parties, most of team PR at HarperCollins was on the road down to Hay Festival in Wales. Lots of the biggest literary, philosophical and political minds speak at this festival during its 11 day duration and we were bringing some of our top children’s authors.
After an extensive train journey and taxi ride, I found myself on site and heading for the calm oasis of the green room. First up for me was managing Michael Morpurgo’s signing queue so my fellow PR ladies could start the long drive back to London. Having been on site since 6am, when Chris Evans had to abandon his radio show to helicopter back to London (his wife was in labour!) and David Walliams had bravely taken up the challenge, they were looking a little sleepy!
Before I was needed I took a little wander into Hay itself which is so idyllic people were literally giving away strawberries and practically skipping along the street in glee! Adorned with festive bunting, it was all looking gorgeous! Michael’s signing queue went swimmingly, although he has an arm injury which means he can’t actually sign, he will meet and greet everyone in the queue and have a lovely chat with them, and they get a printed bookplate to take away. But the real work was to start on Saturday…
My mission was to gather authors and illustrators who were at the festival to come and contribute to Oliver Jeffers‘ Huey Mural. The Hueys are a brand new group of pod-like characters for Oliver, who have made their first outing in The New Jumper, out now in hardback. Oliver’s mural was to contain lots of Hueys, which we would get other people to add jumpers to. Then after the festival the mural will be auctioned for Volunteer Reading Help. If you’re jealous you can make your own Huey here! First challenge was err… sort out the canvas (otherwise known as piece of tent)! with some excellent help from Hay Fever programmer Sophie Lording and on site crew!
Then… start painting!
So now my part came in – the bigger name, the better, and I was given a list from Oliver of people he’d be keen to get – a challenge! So armed with a copy of the Hueys and this lovely invite:
I head into the green room – my first step was to nab any publicists I knew and see who they were accompanying that they could send over. Time to call in some favours! My first nab was the lovely Lorenzo Etherington, who together with his brother Robin form the excellent graphic novel/comics team The Etherington Brothers – and later we convinced Robin to have a go too! Lots of kids passed the mural after the Etherington event and pointed in excitement when they saw the names signed on the bottom!
The mural was beginning to take shape – next up was illustrator Sue Hendra, who was wearing an AMAZING dress and gave her Huey equally excellent fashion sense:
Then by chance I spotted hilarious Tim Minchin in the artist’s restaurant and started my brave streak by going up to ask him if he’d take part. Mid mouthful he exclaimed that “Stuck is the best book EVER!” and said he would pop by after lunch. Hooray! I was on a roll with celebs now!
And so begun my foray into the world of haranguing! My new favourite word! No-one was safe from my persuasive pitches! Apart from people with bodyguards (Boris Johnson) or people with their own celeb caravans that avoided the green room (sexy voiced Mariella Frostrup)… Plus Caitlin Moran who I bumped into as she arrived, just in time to be whisked off to her event so didn’t have time, but was very nice and had excellent eyeliner and boots. By the end of Saturday we had managed to persuade the following people to join in (deep breath):
Then on Sunday with a little more running around we added to the list: Salman Rushdie, Hay festival director Peter Florence, Ian McEwan, Marcus Sedgwick, Rupert Read, Sophie Lording, and a panel of graphic artists after I left! What a star spangled mural, and here’s hoping it raises oodles of money for the charity. Keep an eye on the Hay Festival twitter to see when the mural will be auctioned!
I have to also say a big thank you to Art of Fielding author Chad Harbach – who after a series of unfortunate events didn’t have time to come by and add to the mural, but did give me one of his bottles of cava after I bumped into him and lovely 4th Estate publicist Rebecca on the train home! Will be enjoying that very soon…
And despite coming home very late on Sunday night and missing the flotilla, I still managed to catch Queenie in her carriage on Whitehall on Tuesday. What an excellent weekend!
You can see every photo from the mural at Flikr here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/79961507@N02/sets/72157630003519035/