Hi, I’m Lina LitFest, the new mascot for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your favourite literature festival, look no further!
Lina: What exactly does the Head of Finance and HR do?
I look after payments and placements, money and manpower. Not much that is glamorous I am afraid. It’s the nuts and bolts kind of stuff that needs to be done. I get great pleasure from seeing a task finished, a process functioning, and a team working in harmony.
Lina: What’s a typical day for you?
Do people laugh at you when you ask that?! [Both laugh] What I would like a typical day to be is one where I can tick off all that I’ve planned to get through each day but that’s not what happens. Most of the time I deal with whatever comes across my desk during the day, with a few hours allocated to my planned events: checking mail, bills, budgets, dealing with what are most urgent matters and attending any meetings related to those things.
Lina: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at #EAFOL16?
Mmmm, that’s difficult. To be honest it’s not who but what. If somebody told me I could only go to one thing at the Festival this year it would be Poetry Live. There are so many fantastic poets that are coming.
I also like surprises so I choose to randomly go to sessions that I know very little about and don’t know what to expect. Some of the best sessions I have attended I have discovered in this way. A couple of them have been Arabic sessions where I have taken advantage of the translator headsets that are available in almost all the sessions. I also enjoy panel discussions which result in lively thought provoking debate.
Lina: Tell me about your favourite book.
I’m not good with favourites! I think I’ve read all of Wally Lamb’s books. The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True and She’s Come Undone are all great books. I love his style of writing. I also like the classics a lot… Thomas Hardy for example, who has such strong believable female characters. I like complicated plots and lyrical, poetic writing. I really couldn’t give you one book.
If you wanted a couple of examples of books I’ve enjoyed recently I’d say A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I also like Mary Doria Russel’s novels. She has written the best sci-fi books ever! She has really interesting ideas. I have just ordered Dreamers of the Day which is set in 1921 in Egypt at the time of the Cairo Peace Conference. To give you an idea of what her books are like she says, “all my books are historical novels. It’s just that some of them take place in the future.” I also loved Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. It is a tender, beautifully written novel about big issues seen in miniature.
Lina: If you could be any character in a book, who would you be?
Any character from a book… Who would I choose to be…? Mmmm, let me think…! I’m thinking of A A Milne! I think I’d be Winnie the Pooh. Yes, Winnie the Pooh!