Sunday, 23 June 2013

Edinburgh again, and on being Mimi

Last Thursday at noon, the Edinburgh International Book Festival made its 2013 programme public... and I'm in it. HURRAH! Last year's Edinburgh was my first ever literary festival and I had an absolute ball. This year I'm going to talk about A Heart Bent Out of Shape, and because my event falls a good month before the official publication date, advance copies will be available to Festival go-ers, which makes the whole thing feel, for me, especially exciting. 

In a curious case of stars aligning, or just plain old coincidence, I'm appearing with the excellent Lucy Ellmann, who wrote a novel called 'Mimi'. Time for some trivia... Anybody who knows me beyond the pages of this blog, probably knows that Mimi is the name I commonly go by. My older sister coined it when she couldn't pronounce 'Emylia', the name my parents gave me, so I was Mimi in the cradle, and more often than not, I'm Mimi today. I decided to write under Emylia as it somehow felt less frivolous than Mimi, less flighty, but whenever I meet anyone through books and writing, there comes a point when I feel like I have to confess to being also known (generally known) as Mimi. To some, I'm sure it comes across as overly intimate/ slightly daft, like saying 'call me Tiddlywinks' or 'Fifi-foo', but it's not a nickname, it's my name-name. For years, I only heard 'Emylia' at school, from the mouths of teachers and pupils who didn't know me well enough - Emylia was swottish, a goody-two-shoes who always turned her homework in on time and had neat handwriting, whereas Mimi climbed trees, played football, and was a bit of a scruff bag. I never cared much for 'Emylia', but ever since I started writing under it, I feel like it's had a new lease of life. I don't prickle anymore when I hear the name. 'Emylia' no longer conjures timetables, and rigour, clumpy shoes and school ties; instead it's book jackets, and exciting things, and feeling like at 34 I'm doing the thing I love most in the world and feeling tremendously, enormously happy about it. For the first time, my two identities have fused - Emylia, Mimi, it's all good. I'll just have to remember to keep myself in check when the Edinburgh crowd say things like 'I really loved Mimi', or 'what next, after Mimi?' I'll pipe down, and look to Lucy.

To read more about our event, 'Literary Genius and Genius Loci', go HERE.