I once defined publishing as a means for editing and producing books for authors, nothing else. This view radically changed when I started my postgraduate degree, and working for Scotland’s Cymera Festival has greatly broadened my prospects.

Founded by Ann Landmann, Cymera is a literature festival for the Sci Fi, Horror and Fantasy genres and has a vast array of events and workshops for fans of the genre to participate in. Along with my fellow interns, we created an ambitious brochure for the festival. Although it was our primary work, we did learn a great deal …. and improved upon the InDesign skills we learned throughout our course. You can find more about our experience working on the brochure in Hannah’s post.

Although I never got the chance to work on my event, which was Agent One-on-One workshop for authors to talk to agents about their stories for advice, I did get to help out at Ben Aaronovitch’s book talk for his latest novel False Value at Edinburgh’s Assembly Roxy. As a quiet person, I was quick to volunteer for this event to challenge my shyness and work on my social skills in a busy environment.

My duties at the event included inviting in guests and ticking their names off the priority list. If anyone had questions, I would help them as best to my knowledge (but the most I was asked was “Where is the toilet?”). During Ben’s talk with author Tendai Huchu, I kept near the audience, springing into it with a microphone if anyone had questions for Ben.

I greatly enjoyed this experience. Ben had a lot of interesting things to say and provided insight into how his characters came to life. But what inspired me the most was seeing Ann in action. She presented herself so confidently on stage and spoke to everyone, including the audience, as if they were personal friends. Her skills seemingly come naturally to her and must be beneficial in her work in sales. More importantly, it’s clear that she loves her work and communicating with people.

A shameless selfie showing off my Cymera Fest volunteer top!

If Cymera hadn’t been cancelled due to the Coronavirus, I’d have liked to get to Ann’s level of comfort of bouncing around a stage. Being exposed to a vast percentage of people over three days whilst being in charge of my own event and helping out with others would have forced me in a position to continuously talk to people. But there will be other opportunities to continue this growth, and I have Cymera to thank for the spark of this interest.

I am utterly grateful to Ann for selecting me for this internship (and for the t-shirt!). Although we only really worked on the brochure in relation to the festival, I do believe this experience has been worthwhile. Cymera Festival will return bigger and better in 2021, and you can bet I’ll be there.

For now, you can follow the festival on Twitter @CymeraF for information on exciting online content to keep you occupied through quarantine.

Roll on 2021!