Julia Donaldson on the Edinburgh Festival: “Worst is everyone always saying, ‘Hi guys – enjoy!’”

Julia Donaldson. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Julia Donaldson. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Children’s author Julia Donaldson tells us what she gets up to in August in Edinburgh

I only have time to see one show in Edinburgh. Why should I go to yours?

If you or your children like my books, you’ll love seeing six of them dramatised in just one show – with five actors, puppets, music and magic. What’s more, there are books for sale and if you hang around, I’ll sign one for you.

Now I think of it, I’ve got time to see two. What else should I definitely go to?

Out of everything I’ve seen so far I would recommend The Modern Maori Quartet: Two Worlds. Great singing, dancing and humour in a clever dramatic framework, and four lovely actor/musicians.

What are the best and worst things that have happened to you at the Edinburgh festival?

The worst thing is the fact that at least two entrances to the Princes Street Gardens are closed, so that we can’t take our lovely green short cuts. Second worst is everyone always saying, “Hi guys – enjoy!” – two of my worst expressions. Best thing is doing our show every day – I love it.

Please describe where you’re living this month.

In a flat with a wonderful view of the Water of Leith and the Firth of Forth. We have a key to residents’ gardens which are nice peaceful places where we can rehearse the show or just flop.

What’s your favourite place in the city and why?

I love the Water of Leith. It’s such a haven, and you can walk to a couple of art galleries in one direction or build up an appetite walking the other way to a restaurant in Leith – and you might well spot a heron or even a kingfisher en route.

Who do you most like spending time with at the festival?

My husband Malcolm and my sister Mary are both in the show and are great company, as are our two younger professional actors. I also like hanging out at the Book Festival (I’m performing there as well as doing the Fringe), where I’m likely to bump into other authors, illustrators and friendly librarians and publishing people.

Where can I find you at 9am, 9pm and 2am?

9am: On foot or on a bus, somewhere between the New Town and George Square, on my way to the Purple Cow, where we perform at 11 each day. I like to experiment with different routes.

9pm: At a show – I’m lucky enough to have a free pass for anything at Underbelly and they have some great comedy and theatre.

2am: In bed – or very occasionally still up playing a game of Wizard.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I’ve recently learnt to do flossing. My teacher was my six-year-old grandson; in return I taught him how to hula-hoop.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Drink a cup of tea brought to me by my husband.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?

Drink a cup of tea brought to me by my husband.

Thanks for the interview! I’d like to buy you a drink. Where are we going and what are we drinking?

A bottle of red wine at The Apartment in Barclay Place – and how about a meal there as well?

• The Gruffalo, The Witch and the Warthog with Julia Donaldson, Udderbelly, George Square, 11am, until 27 August.