I have set out quite a reputation for myself, which I’m proud to hold on to. I’m known as the “Litfest-volunteer-turned-moderator”, and that’s come with quite a few profound experiences.
I have a very clear memory of the very first time I stepped foot in the InterContinental hotel for my first and only session at the pilot edition of the Litfest in 2009. I had the privilege to meet Anthony Horowitz, and I felt like a very special kid (13 years old back then), as my parents were huge supporters of me attending a literature festival. They allowed me to get as many books I wanted. Back then, we had to buy tickets through Magrudy’s only. The tickets came in a closed envelope, and oh how the times have changed; even the branding was different. For those of you who don’t know, the Litfest had blue branding instead of green.
I’ve always been a great reader and having a festival like the Litfest growing up has been a huge privilege. I was immediately immersed and always wanted to be more involved. That’s how my journey to volunteering with the Litfest started. I tried to make my experience wholesome and learn along the way, but most importantly I would make the experience richer with the different sessions that I would have the opportunity to attend.
Quickly, the Litfest became the event I look forward to every year (let’s not forget the lineup announcement days, where our hearts would skip a beat when a few favorite authors would be confirmed for the coming year). Soon enough, my sister would join me in volunteering and we would befriend so many people whom we are in touch with until today (Special shoutout to @BookishDubai).
And then 2019 happened, and it was a very special year for me as I was invited to be a moderator for Taran Matharu’s session, who is a YA fantasy author. This experience was unforgettable. I was able to check one of my dreams out of my bucket list. The feedback I received was positive, and was I told that I did very well for my first time moderating. For 2020, I was called back again to host a workshop with Alwyn Hamilton, who treated me as a friend more than anything.
So, if there’s one final thing to say, it’s that I have numerous memories from the Litfest that have shaped me to be who I am today. I look forward to having more conversations and learning with world-thinkers and writers.
Here’s the most distinct lesson I learned from attending the Litfest for about a decade, one that authors themselves highlighted many times, especially this year:
Authors are just as humans as you and I are, but the difference is that they make sacrifices and strive to get the writing done. They’re not heroes or symbols of glory, but ordinary people who believe in their work, those who go the extra mile behind the scenes to deliver the best version of what they can.
All my best,