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Philippa Gregory pulls out of Edinburgh Book Festival

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Miss Moppet
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Philippa Gregory pulls out of Edinburgh Book Festival

Postby Miss Moppet » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 12:18 am

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/leading-author-in-attack-on-book-festival-1.1050595

A best selling author has criticised Edinburgh International Book Festival after more than 20 events involving some of Britain’s best-known writers and artists were cancelled.

Phillipa Gregory, whose historical novels such as The White Queen and The Red Queen are critically acclaimed, pulled out after she refused to bow to the demands of the organisers over the content of a talk she had planned for today.

The African-born writer told them that she wanted to discuss a book, Gandhi’s Interpreter, by her former Edinburgh University tutor, Professor Geoffrey Carnall, who would also have appeared at the Scottish Power Studio Theatre.

However, organisers were keen for her to stick to the published programme listing, which stated she would discuss her extensive knowledge of the Wars of the Roses.

Gregory, 56, who has now paid to stage the event at another city venue outwith the festival, questioned why so many of the two-week event’s leading names had pulled out, with the likes of White Teeth author Zadie Smith, Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs and the novelist Hilary Mantel among the cancellations.

She said: ““I told them I wasn’t prepared to do this talk at all but that I was prepared to pay to change the listing, which was refused. So I pulled out. In any case, they got the name of my current novel wrong. The book I am publicising is The Red Queen, not The White Queen which appeared in the programme.

“I have worked with many major festivals and have always been able to use the material I wanted to use and I had prepared.

“It seems a lot of events have been affected by cancellations and you have to wonder why.”

A festival spokesman said that only 11 events were cancelled before this year’s opening, but 22 events are now listed as having been hit, a figure higher than last year.

Gregory’s agent Zahra Moussavi said: “Phillippa had been looking forward to going to Edinburgh. It was where she studied, her event involved Edinburgh University and a modern connection to literature. This could have been easily fixed. It is very disappointing.”

[...]

A spokesman for the Edinburgh Book Festival said: “We developed the event based on the information we had been given.

“Once the book festival brochure had gone to print, we were made aware that Ms Gregory wished to come to the festival with a different style of event, and a different book.

“Unfortunately, given that we print and distribute 125,000 brochures it was not practical to make the change.

“Ms Gregory then decided to cancel her event.”

He said changes to the published programme were inevitable because the event has more than 750 events and these often involved topical subjects, including politics.

[...]

Gregory and Professor Carnall will give the talk she had planned at St George’s West Church in Shandwick Place on September 14.


I appreciate that they got PG's book title wrong, but ultimately I think she should have done the event as originally planned, instead of changing her mind and getting into a spat with the organisers. She could always have done the other talk independently and used the Red Queen event to publicise it.

As it is, the message to her readers sounds like, "I'm more interested in sharing the stage with bona fide historians, however unrelated to the field I'm researching, than I am in discussing my own books."

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Divia
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Postby Divia » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 3:17 am

She's just uppity. If she said she would do A and then suddenly changes it to B. then thats not fair. Then to pitch a fit over it is even worse. Yes, they did get her title wrong, but The White Queen came out last year, correct?

Gregory's ego and head are getting to big for her.

I would like to hear what professional authors feel though. Would they ahve stuck to the original program? Would they be outraged if their book title was wrong
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SonjaMarie
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Postby SonjaMarie » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 3:43 am

A little cheese with your whine, Ms. Gregory?

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M.M. Bennetts

Postby M.M. Bennetts » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 6:58 am

I go and generally do what I'm told to do. (Misspellings of my name are common.)

However, I can understand Gregory's sentiments. You've got your work all done, your research, your patter, your talk all worked out in your head, you think about it for weeks probably, have your notes...it's a fixed thing in your mind...and then, ooh, sorry...and depending on how much work you've put into it, you may not actually have the time to do as proper a job on the new topic...

Also, I've got the feeling as I've been looking at various so-called literary festivals that they've got less and less about the literary and more and more about political celebrities, with every politician of every stripe out plugging their latest ghost-written kiss-and-tell. And crikey, that has to be disheartening, or even go well off the smarm-o-meter.

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sweetpotatoboy
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Postby sweetpotatoboy » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 8:58 am

I'm sorry, I completely fail to understand where she's coming from. She's a bestselling author, so naturally she was asked to come and talk about what she's known for and she apparently agrees to that. Then she turns around and says she wants to talk about somebody else's book that has nothing to do with her own writing and success. Why would anyone want to hear that??!

M.M. Bennetts

Postby M.M. Bennetts » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 10:00 am

"There's no accounting for taste," said the old lady as she kissed the cow.

Righto. Shutting up now.

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Miss Moppet
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Postby Miss Moppet » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm

"sweetpotatoboy" wrote:I'm sorry, I completely fail to understand where she's coming from. She's a bestselling author, so naturally she was asked to come and talk about what she's known for and she apparently agrees to that. Then she turns around and says she wants to talk about somebody else's book that has nothing to do with her own writing and success. Why would anyone want to hear that??!


That's my take too. The change came from PG, not the organisers. I think she had the right to insist that she talk about The Red Queen, not The White Queen, whatever it said in the programme, but I can't see the justification for deciding to speak on another topic entirely.

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cw gortner
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Postby cw gortner » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 7:06 pm

"SonjaMarie" wrote:A little cheese with your whine, Ms. Gregory?

SM


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Ariadne
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Postby Ariadne » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 11:04 pm

Good grief. The festival website says there were 750 events over a two-week period. If only 22 of them were cancelled for whatever reason, that's not a surprising number, and no reason for anyone to "wonder why" that happened. Also a bit confused why she says she wasn't prepared to do a talk on the Wars of the Roses when that's what she writes about... how very odd.

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Divia
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Postby Divia » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 11:48 pm

Internet rumor....

maybe she doesnt write the books hmmmmmmmmmm. :D :p
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