Thursday, 25 August 2011

Templar in Old Reekie - the view from the Edinburgh Festival

The intrepid Templar 5 (pr guru Jayne Roscoe, editor supremo Emma Goldhawk, Ology mastermind Nghiem Ta, design and photographer extraordinaire Will Steele and bibliogeek Helen Boyle) have headed up to Old Reekie with a whole host of Templar authors and illustrators appearing at the Edinburgh Book festival.

Day 1 - Bombs, medals and stuffed rats
We sometimes wonder how Johnny O'Brien gets through airport security. At his packed schools' event on Tuesday morning, out the suitcase came a WW1 German pith helmet, medals, a telescope, a water pistol (which surely must look dodgy in the x-ray machine) a minature bomb and... a stuffed rat. Yes readers of a sensitive disposition - a stuffed rat!

It was somewhat of a homecoming for Johnny as he kicked off events' schedule for Templar Fiction at this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival. Johnny Duddle had had the accolade of being Templar's first EdBookFest 2011 event when he donned piratical gear for a pirate crunching last Monday, but Johhny O'B heralded the start of some exciting events, talks and discussions from Templar fiction authors.

To whet the audiences’ appetite for adventure Johnny began by reading an extract from his first book in the Jack Christie Adventures series Day of Assassins. He plunged them straight into a battle scene where they have travelled back to World War 1, Jack finds himself on the front line with rifle in hand and comes into close contact with the opposition. As the children become immersed in the combat situation where Jack is being held at the mercy of a German soldiers bayonette, Johnny decides to leave the story there, quite literally, on a knife-edge!

The kids were hooked by Johnny's historical time-travel patter and eager to get their hands on the historical loot that had come out of the suitcase as it was handed round - well apart from the rat, who took pride of place on the stage's speeker. Amongst the audience for the event were even a group of children from Johnny's old school in Peebles. They had lots of questions for Johnny, including asking if he was the Johhny O'Brien who'd won a history award and whose name adorned a plaque in their school.

An hour passed in a flash and after the event a large signing queue quickly formed in the bookshop tent - we think they may have even sold out of Day of Assassins stock - hurrah!

The team and Johnny headed back to the authors' yurt for a well-earned cuppa tea, before Johnny jetted off back to his city day job.

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