MARVELLOUS MEMORIES – ROBIN STEVENS
Some of my happiest childhood memories are the road trips I took with my father to Hay-on-Wye. He was an avid reader, and delighted that I was too, so at least once every year we’d get into the car and drive to Hay. The visits felt marvellous, part treasure hunt and part religious experience; endless shelves and endless books, all of which could be mine.
Hay is where I discovered so many of the books that made me the person I am: Gerald Durrell and Bram Stoker, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and of course Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers in my favourite bookshop ‘Murder and Mayhem’.
Hay was foundational for me, so speaking at the Hay Festival always feels like a particularly meaningful honour. This was my second Hay, and it was just as magical as my first. It’s marvellous to be in a space where everyone believes in the power of books, and where people from all over the world can come together to share ideas.
On the way to the main festival tent I was in a taxi with two poets, one British and one Latvian, who realised half way through the journey that they both organised feminist stand up comedy nights in their respective countries, and began to swap tips. This is the kind of thing that’s normal at Hay, and this is what makes it special even among all of Britain’s other brilliant literary festivals.
My event, a discussion of children’s crime fiction with my friend and fellow crime writer Katherine Woodfine, was full of eager, passionate and very intelligent fans, and the question and answer session at the end was just as smart and wide-ranging as we’d hoped.
It is always a real honour to be part of Hay – it is one of the highlights of my year, and I can truly say that I had the most wonderful, brain-stretching, fun, engaging day. Thank you to everyone who makes the festival run so perfectly, and I hope I get the chance to come back again soon!