For most authors, festivals are way outside their comfort zone largely because there is a loss of control. Weather foremost–even a tent or building may shelter you from the elements but if it’s too lovely, people may head for the beach and if it’s raining people will stay curled up in front of a screen at home. You can only wish the screen would hold a copy of your ebook.
You don’t know the size of your audience or if you will have one. For children’s and young adult authors, we love the school setting where numbers of the students can be anticipated and participants will be disciplined by teachers. As a rule no drums will beat in the background nor will there be a gigantic mascot type creature walking around distracting your audience. Students will have access to your books.
Imagine in the Park in Hamilton Gage Park rests even further away from my cushy spot. My fellow artists often compete for the small audience we draw with toilet bands, t-shirt painting and other crafts, balloon tieing and free books. Just for fun a horse, with a police officer on top canters through and even I want to leave to pat the stallion.
This year especially I wanted to let parents and kids know about Revenge on the Fly, a piece of Hamilton history that never stood a chance against the sinking of the Titanic. This year I spent a few hours creating black play doh–10 drops red combined with 20 drops green simmered on the stove and kneaded into the doh recipe of your choice. Picture black pot, black hands, black anything that came in contact. I visited the reuse centre and bought three beaded necklaces to dismember into fly eyes. The dollar store provided the thick thread for the feet. I found various sparkly report covers to cut into tear drop shaped wings.
The work was worth it! The crowds of kids who came in and while engaged in fly-making, also listened about this odd chapter in history. We discussed the food chain and the possible offsetting of the Hamilton catch of over 1,500,000 flies (ten and a half million would have born by the end of the summer) We wrote sensory poems from the point of the view of the fly. I encouraged them all to take Revenge on the Fly out of the library.
I also met a 30 something year old fan who read the third book I wrote at the beginning of my career More than Money. Also a young boy was able to read the Korean version of the novel.
Yes it was an exhausting day–but also exhilarating! Thanks to Sharon Levy-Cohen for all her hard work over the years to make this connection possible!