I'd bet my last, precious hardback edition of The 10PM Question that Templar author Kate De Goldi has travelled the furthest of any of the hundreds of authors appearing at the festival - further even than Shaun Tan! Having made the mammoth 27 hour journey from Wellington, New Zealand, Kate opened her festival programme with a lively panel discussion alongside author Saci Lloyd and chaired by Nikki Gamble. In front of an audience of around 100 teenagers, Kate told entertaining anecdotes about her Irish-Italian family, who 'talk a lot' and of how she is from a line of 'threes' - three sisters, three aunties, three great-aunts - the latter of which being her inspiration for the eccentric but lovable 'Aunties' who are the heart of the family in her novel. Most candid however, was her description of how she used her young son's anxieties and nightly questions as her inspiration for 12-year-old Frankie, who is at the centre of a chaotic but loving family impacted by mental illness, and the asker of the all-important 10 p.m. question of the title.
After Saci had shown some mind-boggling futuristic images to illustrate her action-packed dystopian novel, Momentum, a hush came over the audience as Kate read an extract from The 10 P.M. Question; it's obvious why Kate has had a successful radio show in New Zealand for the past few years - this blogger was so enthralled while listening to her read, she forgot to take photos for the blog! Frankie's worries, his big sister Gordana's biting sarcasm, the contentment of the family cat (the brilliantly named Fat Controller), even the 'rodent voices' of worry in Frankie's head, were all brought to life in Kate's musical Kiwi voice.
As the floor was opened up for questions, hands shot up, eager to know how Kate and Saci started as authors and whether they liked writing at school. Despite their novels being very different in theme, Kate and Saci discovered they had both been avid readers as children and shared a festive tradition of reading A Christmas Carol every year.
Moving next door to the signing tent, Kate and Saci were kept busy for half an hour by a huge line of young people wanting everything signed - books, leaflets, bags - some of the teens standing wide-eyed and mute in the presence of these two brilliant authors and some brave enough to ask more questions.
As Frankie and his best friend Gigs might have said, this was an event of 'bonga swetso' proportions (read the book to find out what that means!) and luckily for Edinburgh, there is still more to come from the fabulous Kate De Goldi...