Friday 8 July 2011

The ABBA Online Literary Festival - Interview with Lucy Coats

On the eve of the first ever children's online literary festival known fondly as ABBA lit fest, I thought it would be nice to ask Lucy Coats a few questions about the event. Lucy Coats is author of the brand new series Greek Beasts and Heroes as well as being one of the organisers of the ABBA literature festival. 

How did the idea for the online literary festival come about?
 The idea happened when Sam Mills (author of Blackout and member of The Scattered Authors Society saw an adult online lit festival advertisement in the Liverpool Post - and thought, “well, why hasn't this been done with a group of children's authors”? We were looking for something to do to celebrate the 3rd blogoversary of An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, and when Sam put the suggestion out there to the SAS members, everyone was immediately enthused. It all kind of snowballed from there, and ABBAlitfest was born.

How many authors will be taking part?
I’m pretty sure the final author body count is 47! Which is the most children’s and YA authors taking part in a literary festival anywhere, EVER, whether on- or offline! Everyone’s pretty happy about that.

How long did the festival take to organise?
It seems to have been going on forever. But Sam put it out there at the beginning of the year, and we started organising properly in March 2011. So not that long, really.

How helpful were the authors and publishers in turning the idea into reality?
Everyone has been incredibly enthused and excited by the whole thing. We had immediate offers of posts, interviews, videos and much more from all the authors who blog on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure—everyone got terribly creative about what they were going to do, and because there were only a certain number of festival ‘slots’, many people have teamed up in pairs, which is wonderful. Publishers have been fantastic—offering to publicise us on blogs, websites and Twitter, as well as donating prizes for the giveaways and competitions. My own publishers. Orion Children’s, have been really generous for my 4pm 9th July ‘video blogspot’—one lucky commenter will win no less than 18 books! The blogging community (including this very blog!) have also been fabulous at supporting us and getting the word out there to so many people. Through you guys the traffic to ABBA has quadrupled in less than a week—and it’s growing all the time.

What do you hope to achieve with this festival?
Blogs must evolve, or stagnate and die. So we wanted to take An Awfully Big Blog Adventure up to the next level, and an online literary festival seemed the perfect way to do it. This week we’ve launched a fantastic new blog design—created by our web supremo Elen Caldecott who has worked tirelessly to make it look amazing. Over the last three years, the ABBA blog has shown itself to be full of interesting and varied content and it has made wonderful links between writers and readers. Now we want to get even more people from all walks of life, all ages, all communities, everywhere in the world involved and engaged with children’s books and writing via even better and more wide-ranging book-focused material. The 100% positive response to the festival before it even opens has been no less than eye-opening and humbling, so I hope those feelings of goodwill will continue and grow. There are now separate pages for reviewing, latest books, competitions, videos and much more, so ABBA litfest will hopefully relaunch us as even more of a a One Stop Shop for talking about everything important that’s going on in children’s books and writing today. We children’s and YA writers are extremely proud of what we do, and we want our blog readers to feel as passionate about children’s books as we all are. That would be the best achievement of all.

The event begins at 9.30am tomorrow, how are you feeling right now about it? Is everything organised and ready to go?
Hmmn. You know that feeling when your head is so filled with stuff to do that it’s nearly exploding? Well, that’s what I feel like right now. I’ve sent nearly 1000 emails back and forth since June 20th, and today is the day I have to finish off the enormous task of reminding everyone gently about what they promised to do over the weekend and chasing those last minute loose ends which always seem to crop up just when you think everything is tied down tighter than a grumpy grizzly in a net! But as far as the festival itself is concerned, yes, it’s all ready to go. The posts are loaded, the authors are ready, the virtual cake is in the oven, and the champagne is on ice. Now all we need is visitors to help us celebrate—and maybe a quick trending moment on Twitter!

Which blog post are you most looking forward to?
Oh! That’s SUCH a hard question, because there are so many brilliant ones to choose from. I’m terrified of my own video going up—whoever said don’t work with children and animals had it right! But if I had to pick just one, it would be Sam Mills’ video interview with Tyger Drew-Honey from Outnumbered. That should be fantastic.

This festival has been organised entirely with children’s authors, do you plan to organise another one with adult authors?
That would be nice, but is currently a no. The Scattered Authors’ Society is made up of children’s and YA authors only, and though some of our members write for an adult audience, I think an adult online litfest won’t be something we’ll be doing just at the moment. Though you never know!

How do you plan to do to celebrate after the event finishes?
ABBAlitfest is over I shall hang up my beautiful but heavy Publicity Campaign Director’s Hat and get back to my proper day job. Writing!

Thank you Lucy for joining me on the blog today. I can't wait to head over to The Awfully Big Blog tomorrow to join in the festivities.

* Head over to tomorrow at 9.30am to join in the fun.
* Follow the Twitter chat at: @AwfullyBigBlog and #ABBAlitfest 
* Join the Facebook Event Page 
* To find out more about Lucy Coats


  1. Hm...have I seen these posts? You know I do not know. I commented this morning on that other post, but I can't remember these showing up. That might be it

  2. I just looked at my dashboard and none of these two recent ones show up

  3. Wonderful post! ABBA sounds truly terrific!


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