Volunteering at the Emirates Litfest 2016

litfestThe Emirates Airline Festival of Literature or EAFOL for short, is a yearly event that happens in Dubai for a week. It’s the perfect place to attend sessions where famous or upcoming authors of both English and Arabic language come to talk about their book and also sign them (it’s the latter that we’re most interested in but anyway).

We volunteered at this fabulous event this year. Note that we had never gone to this event (despite this being the 8th year because we always had finals during that week) and we had never ever volunteered anywhere before.

This was all so new to us! We had no idea what to expect and I (Raven) couldn’t even sleep the night before because I was soo nervous for absolutely no reason.

{The event began on the 5th of March and ended on the 12th.}

Raven: I volunteered at the event on the 10th, 11th and 12th as Room Crew and honestly… It was one of the best days of my life! I made sooo many great friends who loved books of so many different genres. I ate free food (cause volunteer duh!), I attended sessions by different authors, I watched little kids read books and run out of sessions screaming that they wanted to buy that authors book AND get it signed, and I got MY books signed too!

I felt so glad to have been a part of that fabulous event that everyone had worked so hard to put together. I loved watching kids waiting in lines, clutching their books and constantly jumping because they were so excited to finally meet their favourite author. I felt so happy when after a session got over, I would open the doors and watch a horde of kids running to the author panel to get their books signed. It was just amazing.

I met so many authors too. I met Lauren Child (the creator of one of my favourite cartoons Charlie and Lola), I met Chris Haughton (the author of A bit lost), Ian Rankin (a very well known British crime fiction writer), Anthony Horowitz (the writer of the Alex Rider series), Darren Shan (the cirque du freak and the Demonata series) AND I met Brandon Adorable Freaking Sanderson!!! (author of the fabulous Mistborn series and many more).

I attended loads of sessions but two of them really stuck with me. One was by Jonathan Meres, author of ‘The world of Norm’ series because it was soooo entertaining. I don’t think I’ll be reading his book because it’s too kiddish for me but I definitely loved that session and I bet the kids who attended it loved it too because I’ve never seen that many kids go cuckoo before.

The other session was by Anthony Horowitz. He was talking about his book Trigger Mortis (which I’m definitely going to read) and how violence that is doctored for kids should always talk about the after affects of such violence on the characters, which I thought was a very interesting topic to debate about. He also showed us an exclusive first look at the trailer for his upcoming T.V. show called New Blood and it just looks fabulous.

On another note, I didn’t get a signature from a lot of authors but I did get some of my favourite authors books signed. It felt so good to finally meet the creators of such wonderful books. To talk to them, take pictures with them and even discuss about the book (which I didn’t do much cause I was a nervous wreak).

One of the things that was really sad was that I had to stand at the end of the line for the author signing no matter how many people came behind me! It was my duty as volunteer apparently and I was so pissy about it because I almost lost my chance to meet Brandon Sanderson. I was behind two other people (also volunteers) when we were told to leave because Brandon (yes we are on first name basis) had to go for another session. But we almost cried and the panel manager let us stay and when I gave him my book to sign the first thing I said was “Thank you so much!” I did not say anything, just that. *so embarassed* and he was so sweet! Ugh I love that man.

Beez: I volunteered for only 2 shifts and yet I had loads of fun! Since I was room crew, I got to attend almost all the sessions that took place in the room I was in and I was so darn enlightened. Just like Raven, I met the writers of amazing books and got tons signed. And since I’ve never actually had signed books before, you bet I was happy.

I met Joe Wicks of the body coach, who was all muscle and fanfare. This is only my opinion but I didn’t get anything much from his session but some deep pocket filling plan. But I will admit that he is a pretty piece of ass (I smell sexist) and is very good a what he does (it just doesn’t cater to me).

Next I met Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson and although I didn’t get to attend the entirety of their session, the two poems I heard were quite funny and good.

The next session I attended turned out to be my favorite one. It had John McHugo, author of ‘A concise history of the Arabs’, and John Man, author of ‘Gengis Khan: Life, Death and resurrection’. Their session was about Arab history and common misconceptions and amazing things that I had no idea off. I was extremely enlightened and amazed and I loved every minute of it.

The next day, I had a session with A. C. Grayling (The 17th century and the birth of the modern mind) which was wonderful because the man started talking and did not stop in the slightest for an hour. He talked all about philosophy and history and the birth of the thinking age and it was amazing.

Then I attended an Alex Rider session with Anthony Horowitz and even though it was catered towards kids, I enjoyed it. Then I got to hear Jacqueline Wilson talk so wonderfully about her journey to becoming an author and creating characters and their place in her heart. And finally, I got to attend a Darren Shan session which was highly entertaining and has made me want to read his books.

All in all, volunteering at EAFOL was epic and sparked an awakening of love for history in me. I also loved the process of volunteering. I don’t know about Raven, but I’d do it over and over again. I loved having the authority and the view into the behind-the-scenes. It was fun and I met loads of interesting people and I even got a taste of taking responsibility on. Very very good.

I don’t think I’m sad about even one thing except maybe not volunteering more and attending more sessions and not going to a Brandon Sanderson session.

I got 5 of my books signed and Raven got me an adorable card signed by Brandon Sanderson which she refuses to give to me (such a good friend!) (I’m sorry, but the selfish side of me wants to smell it forever). I loved meeting the authors. I was in awe all the time. Aargh, they’re such wonderful people. And Brandon Sanderson is such a cutie-pie with his red cheeks. Anthony Horowitz and Darren Shan were dope too. And so were all of them.

In conclusion, I’ll be going for volunteering next time, even more enthusiastically.

This is Raven and Beez,

Signing out~

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5 thoughts on “Volunteering at the Emirates Litfest 2016

  1. Pingback: Steelheart by Mr. Cutie a.k.a Brandon Sanderson | Raven & Beez

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