So this year’s Litfest starts tomorrow and we’ve got a lot packed into the next four days. There’s something for everyone: award winning local writers on Friday, our sci-fi day on Friday, a poetry-filled Saturday and wonderful multimedia storytelling from Jacqueline Harris on Sunday. We’ve got a lot of offers on for multi-buy tickets if you’re coming to more than one event a day!
I’m hopefully (health-depending) going to be reading at the first event on Saturday – I haven’t done a poetry event for a while so I’m really looking forward to it!
Inspiring Stories – Fact and Fiction From The Bay
Thursday 17th March, 7.30pm, The Storey Auditorium
Authors Andrew Hurley and Karen Lloyd discuss how the landscape and libraries of Lancashire have influenced their literature.
Karen Lloyd is a writer of creative non-fiction and poetry based in Kendal. She is a contributor to The Guardian and the Caught by the River blog, as well as to a number of literary journals, Scottish Island Explorer, Scotland Outdoor and other magazines. The Gathering Tide: A Journey Around the Edgelands of Morecambe Bay is her first book, encompassing nature writing and wildlife, ancient and modern history and human-interest stories including the cockling disaster.
Andrew Michael Hurley explores the dark landscapes of British Gothic fiction and reveals some of the literary and geographical influences that shaped his novel, The Loney.
First published by Tartarus Press as a limited edition hardback and then by John Murray, Andrew Michael Hurley’s debut novel, The Loney, was shortlisted for the inaugural James Herbert Award in 2014 and won the Costa First Novel award in 2015. Andrew is also a creative writing tutor and lives and works in Preston.
Thursday 17th March, 7.30pm, The Storey Auditorium
Friday 18th March, The Music Room at The Storey
6pm – 7pm – J.S. Collyer and Eddie Robson
J. S. Collyer is a science fiction writer from Lancaster. She stayed in the city after completing an MA in creative writing in 2008 at Lancaster University. Her first novel, Zero, was released by Dagda Publishing in 2014 and has been described as ‘James Bond meets Firefly’. The sequel, Haven, was released in October 2015.
Eddie Robson published his first novel, Tomorrow Never Knows, in 2015. He also writes for radio and TV: he created and wrote the sitcom Welcome To Our Village, Please Invade Carefully (BBC Radio 4, 2012-14) and has written episodes of Hollyoaks (Channel 4, 2014-15) and Sarah & Duck (CBeebies, 2015-16), sketches for Mitchell and Webb and ten episodes of Radio 4 Extra’s Doctor Who series (2007-13). His other work includes a family play, Beauty And The Beast (The Dukes Lancaster, 2015-16), comic strips for Marvel Comics and 2000AD and several non-fiction books.
Eddie will be reading from ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.
A question and answer session will take place afterwards.
Friday 18th March
The Music Room at The Storey
6pm – 7pm
Friday 18th March
7.15pm – 8.15pm Panel discussion – Genre Bending
The Music Room @ The Storey
Our Alternate Realities writers discuss the understanding of terms in the science fiction genre by different audiences. What does ‘SciFi’ and ‘science fiction’ mean – to writers, readers and viewers? What do we understand by ‘Fantasy’ or ‘Speculative Fiction’? What other titles or categories are applied to alternative writing?
Bring your questions, understanding and opinions – and join in the discussion!
Friday 18th March, The Music Room at The Storey
8.30pm – 9.30pm – Good Science – with Saskia Goldschmidt, Justina Robson, Adrian Tchaikovsky
Dutch writer Saskia Goldschmidt worked as both a youth theatre producer and drama teacher before she wrote an autobiographical account of growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust. The Hormone Factory, which is loosely inspired by the story of the hormone manufacturer Organon, beginning shortly before WW2, is her first novel. It is set in a world in which drug testing and manufacture was as yet unregulated, and there was little or no workplace legislation protecting employees. The book was an instant success in the Netherlands, where it was also broadcast as a 12-part radio drama, and has been published in Germany, France, South Africa, Israel and the United States. Saskia is visiting to celebrate the launch of the UK edition this week.
Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire before heading off to Reading to study psychology and zoology. He subsequently ended up in law and has worked as a legal executive in both Reading and Leeds, where he now lives. Married, he is a keen live role-player and has trained in stage-fighting and historical combat.
Adrian is the author of the acclaimed 10-book Shadows of the Apt series starting with Empire in Black and Gold published by Tor UK. His other works for Tor UK include standalone novels Guns of the Dawn and Children of Time and the new series Echoes of the Fall starting with The Tiger and the Wolf. He has also written numerous short stories and been shortlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award and the British Fantasy Award.
Adrian will read a short story from ‘Looking Landwards’, an anthology of Science Fiction farming stories – looking at the devastating results of bad choices in corporate farming.
Justina Robson was born in Yorkshire, England in 1968. After completing school she dropped out of Art College, then studied Philosophy and Linguistics at York University. She sold her first novel in 1999 which also won the 2000 amazon.co.uk Writers’ Bursary Award.
She has also been a student (1992) and a teacher (2002, 2006) at The Arvon Foundation, in the UK, (a centre for the development and promotion of all kinds of creative writing). She was a student at Clarion West, the US bootcamp for SF and Fantasy writers, in 1996.
Her books have been variously shortlisted: for The British Science Fiction Best Novel Award, including the 2015 for her latest novel “Glorious Angels”, for the Arthur C Clarke Award, the Philip K Dick Award and the John W Campbell Award. An anthology of her short fiction, “Heliotrope”, was published in 2012. In 2004 Justina was a judge for the Arthur C Clarke Award on behalf of The Science Fiction Foundation.
Her novels and stories range widely over SF and Fantasy, often in combination and often featuring AIs and machines who aren’t exactly what they seem. She is the proud author of “The Covenant of Primus” (2013) – the authorised history and ‘bible’ of The Transformers.
She lives in t’North of England with her partner, three children, a cat and a dog.
Saturday 19th March
2pm – 3pm at Lancaster Library
My Dear Watson, The Very Elements in Poetry
Until recently there were 118 elements in the periodic table. Last year, each of them fizzed up its very own poem. From its very own poet. Recent events in the world of science have demanded a few more are added, and they will be for Litfest’s Poetry Day!
The poets hail from all over the world and Lancashire*. Aged from 18 to 83** their poems will make jaws drop (off), hair stand on end (permanently) and tender bits glow in the dark (glimmeringly).
‘My Dear Watson’ is the fourth anthology from Beautiful Dragons, the entirely collaborative poetry press. The biggest venture so far from a bunch of stanza-mongers with collections of experience and none. Who are best friends and total strangers.
Come and see them sizzle at the Lancaster launch of ‘My Dear Watson’. Who knows what will happen when they actually meet…
*not quite true **spot on
Introducing the poets:
The ‘My Dear Watson’ poets include: Rebecca Bilkau, Gill Lambert, Alex Josephy. Mark Connors, Angela Topping, Polly Atkin, Rhiannon Hooson, Ron Scowcroft , Roger Allen, Mollie Baxter, Jo Reardon, Joanna Sedgwick, Barbara Hickson, Derek Dew and Roger Allen.
Ron Scowcroft – Poet, joint first prizewinner, the McLellan Poetry Competition (2013), Highly Commended in The Yorkshire Open (2012) and by Magma (2011), published in the Ver Poets prize anthology (2013) and by Templar: Peloton (2013) prize anthology and Snap (2010) prize anthology. Two poems shortlisted for the 2013 National Poetry Prize, longlisted for the Strokestown International poetry Competition (2012) and for the Bridport Prize.
Along with writers Mike Barlow and Carole Coates, I am a founder member of ‘April Poets’. We organise twice yearly readings at the Storey Auditorium, Lancaster, to promote the best in regional poetry.
Rebecca Bilkau is the co-ordinator of Beautiful Dragons Collaborations; her first collection Weather Notes was published by Oversteps in 2012 and her recent pamphlet Sending for New Omens by Wayleave Press in 2015.
Polly Atkin ives in Cumbria. Her debut poetry pamphlet bone song (Clitheroe: Aussteiger, 2008) was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award, 2009. Her second poetry pamphlet Shadow Dispatches (Bridgend: Seren, 2013) won the Mslexia Pamphlet Prize, 2012, and was shortlisted for the Lakeland Book of the Year, 2014. In June 2014 she was awarded New Writing North’s Andrew Waterhouse Prize in the New Writing North Awards, for work in progress which ‘reflects a strong sense of place or the natural environment’. Her poem ‘A short history of the moon’ won the 2014 Wigtown Poetry Prize. She has been a Beautiful Dragon since Summer Solstice 2012.
Mark Connors is an award-winning poet and novelist from Leeds, UK. His debut pamphlet, Life is a Long Song was published by OWF Press in 2015. His first full length collection will be published later in 2016. His debut novel, Stickleback, is out now through Armley Press.
Joanna Sedgwick lives in West Yorkshire. Her poems have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Magma, The Rialto and The North. Her poetry pamphlet, Travelling light, was published by OWF Press in October 2015.
Barbara Hickson lives in Lancaster and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her poems have been published in anthologies, magazines and on-line journals.
Alex Josephy lives in London and Italy. Her poems have won awards and have been published widely in magazines and anthologies. Her pamphlet, ‘Other Blackbirds’ is due out from Cinnamon Press in March 2016.
After a long career in education, Roger Allen was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and with much regret retired. Now he concentrates on writing and running a writing group in Bentham, North Yorkshire. Other passions include gardening and visiting the Isle of Mull.
Derek Dew’s work appeared in the anthologies Dead and Undead Poems (Everyman Press, 2014), in Heavenly Bodies (Beautiful Dragons Press), My Dear Watson: The Very Elements of Poetry (Beautiful Dragons Press), and in journals such as The Curator. He is currently at work on a new manuscript of poetry entitled Maple’s Labor. He lives in Brookings, Oregon, USA.
Wayleave Press is a small independent publisher of quality poetry pamphlets. Based in Lancaster, it was founded in 2014 by Mike Barlow, with the intention of publishing attractive editions of excellent poetry, specialising in thematically cohesive collections or first pamphlets by talented poets. So far Wayleave has produced 12 pamphlets including work by poets with regional and national reputations. During this event Mike Barlow will introduce three poets who will read from their Wayleave pamphlets as well as their wider work:
Lynda Plater lives in Lincolnshire, having returned there in the 1990’s from Galloway. Her return home and her travels abroad influence her writing. Her pamphlet Three Seasons for Burning, just published in January this year, is her debut collection. Her distinctive rhythms and language have a songlike quality, part homage, part celebration.
Ulverston’s Mark Carson, in his pamphlet Hove-to is a State of Mind, draws on Irish roots, a career as an ocean engineer and time spent in Africa. His poems vividly evoke particular experiences: a cross-cultural encounter camping in the bush, a night-time call-out on a research vessel at sea, a chance encounter between youth and beauty in the west of Ireland, all vividly realised for reader or listener.
Jane Routh lives in rural north Lancashire. Her recent prose publication, Falling into Place, celebrates work, wildlife and weather in the north west of England. The poems in her pamphlet The White Silence focus, with ‘sustained, accessible and accomplished lyricism’ on Sir John Franklin’s 1845 naval expedition to find the ‘North West Passage’ through Arctic ice.
Camille Ralphs started in Stoke, and has studied in Lancaster, Cambridge and now Oxford. She is a senior poetry editor at The Missing Slate, and was 2014’s Cambridge editor-in-chief of The Mays Anthology. Some of her earlier writing can be found in Earth-Quiet (Tower Poetry, Oxford, 2013) and elsewhere. Her debut pamphlet, Malkin, was published by the Emma Press in 2015.
Malkin brims and bubbles with the voices of those accused in the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612. Thirteen men and women – speaking across the centuries via Ralphs’ heady use of free spelling – plead, boast and confess, immersing the reader in this charged and dangerous time in history.
James Trevelyan grew up in the Midlands and now lives in London. His poems have been published in print and online magazines, and anthologised by the Emma Press. He is Poetry Reviews Editor for the Cadaverine and works for the independent publisher Penned in the Margins. His debut pamphlet, DISSOLVE TO: L.A., is publishing in March 2016 with the Emma Press.
Following a poetic tradition giving voice to literature’s under-written characters, James Trevelyan has trawled the action films of the 1980s-90s to give life where it was extinguished too early. What is it to be on the peripheries?
What does it mean to die in a movie scene? Through this sequence of poems spoken in the voices of the forgotten, Trevelyan provides a humorous and tender exploration into morality, mortality and contemporary existence.
Sunday 20th March, 2pm
The Sanctuary @ Lancaster Library
£10 / £8
Jacqueline Harris performs her own sharp and lyrical tellings of old and new tales, Marjan Wouda’s skrikers, white dobbies and spectral cats blaze into life and the audience become part of the story.