In keeping with their recent books, they were both being presented as ‘geeky’ authors, or rather authors who had been geeky when children.
In Andy Robb’s case this was because he had been into role-playing games before it had been cool to be so. There’s a rather good promotional video on his website:
From the way Holly Smale spoke, her own childhood geekiness came across as an uncool thirst after knowledge for knowledge’s sake.
She was an avid reader and her mother read adult poetry and fiction to her from an early age. She completed her first rhyming couplet poem – “The Unicorn” – at the age of seven, and still brings it out at dinner parties, as demonstrated (just an extract) in this clip.
The session started with both authors reading a passage from one of their recent titles. After that the hour passed very quickly, with Robb and Smale chatting freely about their life and work, ably prompted and facilitated by Jo Nadin.
I confess I haven’t yet read either of Andy Robb’s Geek books, Geekhood or Geekhood: Mission Impossible. I have read and enjoyed the first Geek Girl, but not the sequel. What Smale brings out very well in the first novel is the double-edged predicament faced by her main character – ridiculed and bullied at school, then becoming the target of more spiteful abuse in the modelling world, which in turn compounds the comments she receives from her school peers. And this, by all accounts, is based on her own experiences as a gangly 15-year-old ‘spotted’ by a fashion scout. She has managed to transform the painful experiences and memories of her own adolescence into an entertaining and diverting read, light enough for children as young as 7 years old (she told us her readership goes this young).