Not sure what I was thinking, exactly.
I was standing on a stage, speaking to 5000 screaming kids. When I suddenly decided I needed to go for a run.
I should explain. I was at the Forest of Reading’s annual Festival of Trees. The Festival of Trees is a huge literary amusement park, where kids get to hang out with their favourite authors and illustrators, take part in workshops, and basically get jazzed about books. One of the highlights is the announcement of the highly-coveted Silver Birch Award. Kids get keyed up about this award because they’re the ones who choose the winner. Any student who has read five of the ten nominated books gets the honour of casting a vote.
My book was lucky enough to get nominated. That’s why I was standing on that stage. Major thrill. If you’re worried that reading is going the way of High School Musical, you can relax. Those kids screamed for us authors as if we were One Direction.
Each author was given 90 seconds to speak, and when my turn came, I began saying something super boring, about how reading is really good for your brain and you should really make friends with your local librarian because they’ll introduce you to new worlds of wonder and blah blah blah blah blah.
Seriously. I was more boring than watching your computer defrag. So I suddenly jumped off the stage and started running.
Here’s the thing. When I jumped off that stage, the aisles were completely clear. I figured I could do a quick lap around the audience, high-fiving kids all the way. Of course, the moment those kids figured out what I was up to, they swarmed into the aisles to say hello. This slowed my progress considerably.
There was another glitch. When I picked up speed on the return trip down the centre aisle, I noticed that the stage was surrounded by a fence. Good thing I’ve been doing lots of lunges lately. I vaulted over that fence, leapfrogged a stack of amplifiers, and made it back to the microphone in less than 30 seconds.
It was the shortest – and happiest – run of my life. When I sat back down, I barely even felt out of breath. And even though my book didn’t win (that honour went to the woman on my right – Robin Stevenson – for her soulful novel, Record Breaker), I spent the rest of the day walking two inches above the ground.
Hmmm. Maybe that’s how I got over that stage fence so easily. I wasn’t running at all. I was floating.
(photos/video courtesy Denise Anderson)