What is it about literary festivals that excite both readers and writers alike? From a reader’s perspective, I love hearing the stories behind the stories. It is a chance to get to know what inspires people to write, what inspired a particular book or character, and it’s fascinating hearing how the go about their craft. There are as many ways of writing as there are writers. Literary festivals turn me into a gushing fan – I was as excited as the youngest child in the auditorium when I got to hear David Walliams speak a couple of years ago. From a writer’s perspective, it is a chance to get to know our readers and what they love – or loathe – about my books.  It helps me connect with the carers and teachers who buy my books so from a marketing point of view, I know what I should be doing. Even more importantly, it helps me meet my readers, bookworms and reluctant readers alike. I can talk to them to find out what sparks their interest for future stories, and where I have totally missed the mark. It’s a time to goof around and have fun with my readers too – I’m going to be running a children’s writing workshop as part of November’s Tamariki Book Festival, and I can’t wait to be helping make up stories with them. Above all, they are enjoyable, exciting and a rare opportunity to spend a day outside of the real world and inside our imaginations. The team behind the Tamariki Book Festival organisers have taken this idea to heart – the one-day festival is unique within New Zealand as unites children and authors and illustrators in a no-barriers party with games, readings and performances, workshops and where children are genuinely welcome and asked to participate. It is also that rare thing in 2020 – a festival that is going ahead! It is a bonus to be in New Zealand where Covid-19 as under control as is possible, but what really made sure that this festival went ahead is its focus on being local: no travel required, just a celebration of some of the rich artistic talent from Ōtautahi itself. Come and join in the fun with me on Sunday, 22 November 2020 at Tauranga, central Christchurch from 10 am to 4 pm. www.tamarikibookfestival.co.nz