Sophia Bennett on Hay 25

Sophia Bennett on Hay 25

Well, I’ve done it. My event is over. I have a rose (they give you a white rose when you’ve finished), and a whole set of new memories of Hay.

The last time I was here, to talk about my first book, Threads, the sun shone every day and the sky was an impossible blue. This time, the sky was grey and it felt as though someone was chucking a bucket of water on the site, but it really didn’t matter. The air is still buzzy with books and there are lots of happy people (in wellies and macs) sat in tents, listening to the rain falling and the wind whistling, and their favourite authors talking about how they came to write their favourite books. If you’ve ever sat in a tent, in the rain, telling stories, you’ll know how much fun this can be. A lot of fun, that’s how much. A LOT.

I came here to talk about my new book, The Look, with a writer called Lucy Peden from Bliss magazine. Lucy helped to give me the idea for the story, so nothing could be nicer than sitting in the Big Tent, chatting to her about the characters, the way the book came about, and the importance of following your dreams. Because if you do, you might just end up in a tent one day, talking about it to a crowd of eager readers, which I think we’ve just established is about as fun as it gets.

Here are the memories that stand out from day one of my second visit to Hay.

Walking across pathways of actual hay to avoid getting too muddy on the way in to the Artists’ Room. It worked! Zero mud, despite the downpour. Mucho impressed.

Sitting in the back of the Starlight tent, under a roof of twinkling LEDs, watching William Osborne and HM Castor talk about their historical thrillers.

Flowers and smiling faces. Lots of flowers. Lots of smiling faces.

A sign saying ‘Poets, this way’.

Crowding into a posh portaloo with Lucy, getting changed into our pearls (hers), pink jeans (mine) and heels (both). Stepping over my wellies to put on my Festival Shoes.

Wearing one of those beige microphones on a headset like they do on TV, to talk to Lucy and read from the book. Feeling like Sue Barker on A Question of Sport (same mic). Lucy said she felt like Madonna. Worrying that Lucy has a better imagination than me.

Meeting lots of aspiring young writers – mostly girls – and talking about books, films, life and the universe, while eating cupcakes and drinking tea.

Watching Julian Clary walk in to the Artist’s Room (he’s just walked in). And Kate Humble. And Germaine Greer. Pretending not to stare at Julian Clary, and Kate Humble, and Germaine Greer. Like this is totally normal. And like I’d usually be doing it while clutching a white rose and blogging. In pink jeans and heels. In a tent in the rain. I wish it was normal. I really do.

Tomorrow, I’ll be in the audience for some of my favourite writers for girls – Jacqueline Wilson, Louise Rennison and Susie Day. There will be moments of weirdness and moments of wonder. It will be fun, and unexpected, and joyful and, almost certainly, wet.

I can’t wait.