24 Jul 2017

Celsius 232

Celsius 232 is a festival of fantasy, science fiction and horror literature that I've been observing for years but up to now could never go. This year I've finally managed to attend two out of four days and it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! I want more and ASAP. I can't believe I was missing out on this for sooooooo long. Below you can read a chaotic and very subjective account of what I've seen. And that was not even a third of what was offered. I had to choose (time, money, being tired forced me to...) and the choice was tough. This account is in English, but in following weeks I'll be posting reviews of the books I bought there and these will be in Spanish, as most of the authors are Spanish.

My DAY 1 (day 3 of the festival)

First problem I had to solve was getting there as quickly as possible: I finished work on Thursday at 14 and that limited my options. My BF worked on Friday. I've decided to go alone and wait for him to join me. So, I took a night bus (ALSA) directly to Avilés. It was leaving at 00:20 on Friday and was supposed to be there at 7:00, but arrived over one hour late. Which funnily enough was OK as I couldn't go to the hotel before 14.

I walked around checking the city a bit, had breakfast and was at Celsius at 10:30 to see the stands before all the activities started. Unfortunately most of the stands were just opening, but I´ve managed to assalt one and buy my first books to sign before the first talk. I've also found myself face to face with Sofía Rhei and I literally couldn't move. She was wearing a VIOLET pixie wig and was dresses as a FAIRY. She actually was like that the whole day, including the interviews and book presentations :D

Presentation of "El gen Alexander" by María Angulo (center) with Sofía Rhei (on the left) and Cristina Macía (in the right)

It took me by surprise, I let her go without saying anything and just later during the day composed myself enough to ask her to sign "Rondola" and to take a pic.

The first presentation I've attended was of an author, Raquel Villaamil and "El aviso de los cuervos". It's a fantasy novel with a romantic inclination written by a Manhattan Beach series author. Raquel is also videogames scriptwriter and listening to her was a nice start of the day.

My next stop was a conference with Dave Grossman, an American game programmer and designer. Unfortunately I had to leave that one early to be on time to other book presentations. So, I was there just long enough to hear about his beginnings at Lucasfilm Games and to wake up my curiosity...

Dave Grossman, second from the right

Before lunch break I had time to attend two more chats with book authors. First with Mayte Navales about her first novel, "La última bruja" and second withManuel Ríos San Martín" about "Círculos". Manuel is a cinema and TV director and scriptwriter and Mayte received for that novel Premio Minotauro.

And finally I could go to check-in to my hotel. I collapsed, then quickly showered and was back for more at 17:40. My plan was to see the presentation of a graphic novel, "Mary Shelley: la muerte del monstruo", but instead I found myself face to face with Joe Hill in a bar. I had a huge dillemma: I knew he was signing books two previous days and had no idea if there will be more time dedicated to that, but I felt uncomfortable assalting him in his free time... So, I ordered Coke and sat 3 tables from him to try to make up my mind. The decision was taken when I saw other person approaching him. He seemed to be OK with that, so I went up to him too. I apologised 5 times, basically that's the only thing I said. And got some pics and two books signed, one for me and one for my dad.

I missed the presentation of the graphic novel. Pity, but it was totally worth it! Next step was the presentation of a novel "La segunda revolución" by Costa Alcalá (Georgia Costa and Fernando Alcalá). I was sceptical about novels written in collaboration, but the chat and explanation given by the authors convinced me. I believe it will be a great read! What is more, they've revealed first pages of the second book in trilogy and gave away some bookmarks and postcards. I've enjoed talking to them after the presentation a lot!

And finally the main pont of that day, a conference with Joe Hill. It was one hour of pure laughter. Hill has a real talent to entertain the public and eventhough I'm sure most of the stories are not real or exagerrated (and probably repeated multiple times at the events like that one), while one is listening to him, it doesn't really matter. He's witty and that's all that is important at the events like that. I took notes on what he said and my intention was to post all that here, but on second thoughts I won't do that: in case you ever have the opportunity to hear him live or to watch some cool video, I don't want to spoil the surprise.

And that was the end of my first day at Celsius 232. I was supposed to see two moe things: the conference about science and Frankenstein's monster and street cinena (E.T!), but couldn't stay awake any longer and my feet and back were killing me! So I went to the hotel and waited for my boyfriend to join me. He came quite late at night and we had just a few hours to sleep before another intense day!

My DAY 2 (day 4 of the festival)

I was much better prepared. I already knew how everything works and knew better not to overcharge our schedule. We have started making a round to see all the stands. There were some really cool ones.

The most interesting among them were, in my opinion, Editorial Cerbero, Recóndita Rick (handmade articulate dragons), Bosque Mitago (libros), second-hand books, Shop Endor and Hangar Rebelde (board games). After shopping, was our first presentaton of the day: "Por una rosa" with the editor and co-author Javier Ruescas. It called my attention, because it's an antology of short stories inspired by "Beauty and the Beast".

Next was "Dos mil noventa y seis" by Ginés Sánchez, postacopalyptic novel, dystopian world. I had my doubts about that, went to see the presentation becuase of the pulishing house (Tusquets) and totally fell in love with the idea listening to the author. Can't wait to read this one!

And then the craziness started. Next were 3 events, all at the same place, where people literally fought for places. First was a chat with Joe Hill about comic books, then with Mike Carey, also about comic books and then the Kelvin Awards. I've somehow managed to see the first two, but then wanted Carey to sign my book and missed the Kelvins. Bummer.

That was definitely a moment to take a break. We left for lunch and went to see the famous Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre. It was a nice walk on the other side of the river, with spectacular views.

After that, we planned only two more activities before hitting the road back home. First was the conference with Juan Jacinto Muñoz Rengel, the winner of this year's Kelvin for "El gran imaginador". The author's integrity, knowledge and ideas surprised me. He definitely knows what he wants his books to be and has all the ideas very clear. Listening to him was a real privilege.

And finally, the last event I could participate in: a conference about adapting books into films with Joe Hill, Ian McDonald, Mike Carey, Jasper Fforde and Ann Leckie. It was 50 minutes, which was definitely not enough to talk about sucha  topic with so many great authors, but even so, I've learned a lot.

That is my chaotic chronicle of my first two days at Celsius 232. I will be back for sure, already counting days!!!

7 Jul 2017

Eguzkiteka - Summer Library at La Concha!

Today at 11:30 I've presented a press conference where the Summer Library: Eguzkiteka was presented. "Eguzki" means "sun" in Basque, so the name sounds wonderful to me! The new project was presented by Eneko Goia, the mayor of San Sebastían and by Arantxa Urkia, the director of Municipal Library.

The library will be open every day from 11:00 to 19:30 and it's a nice space at La Concha Beach, under the pillars (where disco Rotonda used to be). As Arantxa Urkia has explained: one can stay directly there, in a nice chair or on a fake grass and read books, magazines or daily newspapers (in Basque, Spanish, French or English), or take a book away to the beach. In that second case it's enough to complete some short questionnaire and the book would have to be returned by 19:00 the same day and if one hasn't finished reading it,  there is a possibility of reserving it for the next day. There is a nice corner for kids and a separate space for adults.

Also, the daily newspapers are available in all 4 languages, but those have to be read without leaving the library.

At the moment the project is confirmed for July and August with 700 books availbale. Its future depends on its reception by tourists and the citizens. But it's hard not to agree with Eneko Goia, who said: "It's a new offer in a summery place, where also culture needs its space".

Today is an inauguration and all day long (until 16:30) there will be a public reading of "Robinson Crusoe" and at 17:00 "Cuenta Cuentos" for kids.

That last activity will be repeated daily at the same time. If you are interested, son't hesitate to visit it and see it with your own eyes: he view from there is also amazing! You can meet our Donostia Book Club at the pulic reading between 15:30 and 16:30. See you there!