In these strange times all the usual outdoor events are on hold. That includes literary festivals. Authors and readers everywhere were finding long anticipated events were cancelled, book launches postponed and author discussions delayed. So CJ Cooke, award-winning poet and author of I Know My Name and The Blame Game, had a brain wave. An online literary festival. No travel ban worries, no social distancing required. Anyone from anywhere in the world could join in.
So the Stay at Home Literary Festival was born. From 27 March to 11 April a myriad array of authors will take part in online events.
Because I’m slow off the mark we’ve already missed three days. But from today onward here is the programme for this week. Check back for part 2 later on.
Monday 30 March
Ask a literary consultant! 9-10am. Founder and director of Cornerstones Literary Consultancy Helen Corner-Bryant opens the floor for your questions, on anything from the editorial process to submitting your work to agents. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Liz Hyder, author of Bearmouth, shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020. 10-11am. Bearmouth grew out of Liz’s research into the exploitation of children in Victorian mines. Join Liz as she talks about her writing tips, how the children’s book publishing industry works, and shares some creative writing exercises that can be done at home, including a guided exercise. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Jacqueline Saphra, 12-1pm. Poems from the good heart, the laughing heart and the angry heart. Featuring one of the UK’s finest poets, this event comprises a reading of Saphra’s work to date interspersed with Q&As and discussion about poetry and what it means to be a poet in the current moment. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Andrew Leach, 1.30-2pm. Live tweeting part 1, original 3,000-word short story. @4ndrewJames
Emma Pass, 2-4pm. Bringing your characters to life. Join award-winning YA author Emma pass as she leads a workshop on how to create characters that leap off the page. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Louise Welsh, 4pm-4.45pm. Louise Welsh’s debut novel won the Crime Writers’ Association Creasey Dagger. More recently, she has collaborated with composer Stuart McRae on a number of successful operas, and her Plague Times trilogy has been heralded as work for our times. She’ll be reading from her works and discussing her long career working across genres. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Rejection, inclusivity and getting an agent. 6-7pm. Jenny Knight is a prize-winning writer of short fiction and memoir, she attended PRH WriteNow 2018 and her work has won many competitions. Tune in as she gives the low down on overcoming rejection and securing an agent. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Tuesday 31 March
Molly Brown, 10-12pm. Creative Writing Practice: Childhood & Fairytales (selected tales, images and objects). Limited to first 10. Notebooks and fast-writing pens or pencils please – we won’t use keyboards. Please email to sign up:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you RSVP, you will get a confirmation and a Zoom link from Molly.
Jo Clement, 12-1pm. The editor of Butcher’s Dog reads from her poetry collection Moveable Type. “Lyrically agile and never predictable, Moveable Type is a proud and startling debut pamphlet which marks an impressive new voice in contemporary poetry.” Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Andrew Leach, 1.30-2pm Live tweeting part 2, original 3,000-word short story. @4ndrewJames
Samuel Tongue, 2-3pm. Don’t miss this reading from Samuel Tongue’s debut collection ‘Sacrifice Zones’ and a discussion on poetry translation with Dr Rebecca DeWald. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Rishi Dastidar, 3-3.30pm. Join Rishi as he gives a reading from his new book Saffron Jack, a long narrative poem which ‘boldly updates Kipling’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ to confront one of the most pressing issues our fractured world faces today – how can we live together in peace if we exile the most vulnerable in our societies and deny them a place to belong?’ Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Therapeutic Journal Writing. 4.30-5.30pm. In this experiential workshop Professional Writing Academy tutor Anne Taylor will introduce you to the value of keeping a journal and to some tools and prompts for writing your way through these times of stress and uncertainty. Have an old-fashioned pen and plenty of paper to hand. Limited to 12. Email Anne at email@example.com to sign up. Anne will send a Zoom link upon confirmation of your place.
Finding your voice (and getting it heard). 6.30-7.30pm. As writers we’re often told to find our voice, but what does it mean, especially if you’re not used to speaking up? Join writers Susmita Bhattacharya, Joanna Howard, Sallyanne Rock, Deborah Martin and editor Miranda Roszkowski as they discuss access to the publishing industry for women and read their contributions to the powerful new collection 100 Voices which brings together writers from across the UK to celebrate women’s stories. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Wednesday 1 April
Molly Brown, 10-12pm, Creative Writing Practice: Gratitude & Forgiveness (epistolary forms). Limited to first 10. Notebooks and fast-writing pens or pencils please – we won’t use keyboards. Please email to sign up:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you RSVP, you will get a confirmation and a Zoom link from Molly.
Andrew Leach, Live Tweeting his 3000 word short story – part 3 (@4ndrewJames) 1.30-2pm
Wanderers in the Fourth Dimension. 2-3pm. Four writers of Doctor Who novels, audios, and just about everything else talk about writing for the best character in the universe. Una McCormack, Simon Guerrier, Jonny Morris, Jac Rayner. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Dominique Thompson, award winning GP and young people’s mental health expert. 7.30-8.30pm. How to Grow a Grown Up- raising your teenager to be independent and resilient – in the 21st century. Workshop Q&A for parents of secondary school age children. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Thursday 2 April
Nikki Smith, 10-11am. Live tweeting for launch of ALL IN HER HEAD – with book giveaways and prizes!! #StayAtHomeFest
Jane Austin (News From Nowhere) and Janet Dean Knight (The Peacemaker), 2-3.30pm. How Family History Wrote My Novel: Two historical fiction writers on writing about family secrets. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Dr Pragya Agarwal, 4.30 – 5.15pm. Why do we act the way we do? ‘Thinking about our biases’ to coincide with the launch of her fascinating book SWAY: Unravelling Unconscious Bias. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Friday 3 April
Narrative Structure for Novelists. 9-10am. Bestselling author and BAFTA winner John Yorke explores how the rules of screenwriting apply to novel structure, and how they can dramatically enhance your work. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
How to write young adult fiction with Lee Weatherly. 10-11am. Discover what Young Adult fiction is and how to develop a strong YA character with a voice that will hook your reader. We’ll look also at current trends, and explore what themes and concepts make for dynamic YA fiction. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Mab Jones, 2-3pm. Love the Words: a hope themed poetry workshop and free to enter competition for all ages. https://www.discoverdylanthomas.com/love-the-words-competition-2020. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Rob Keeley, 3-4pm. Live Q&A on Twitter. #StayAtHomeFest
Nicholas Jubber, 6-7pm. An illustrated talk and Q&A of Nicholas’ travels around Europe, exploring epic poems and meetings with storytellers re-imagining our ancient tales! Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Saturday 4 April
Starting a Short Story. 9-10am. Join Professional Writing Academy tutor and award-winning short story writer Susmita Bhattacharya for an hour of writing short story openings. Explore a variety of prompts to get words down on the blank page and create short story ideas. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Emily LeQuesne. Are you writing a play? 12-1pm. Emily LeQuesne is a playwright, theatre maker and dramaturg. In this dramaturgy workshop she will follow a step by step process to help you edit and develop your stage script, refine your characters, subject and theme, learn to write visually, and get your script to sing. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Performance Workshop. 1-2pm. Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa (aka Birdspeed) is a poet, choregographer and multi-champion. Join her as she leads one of her dazzling performance masterclasses to help you boost your confidence to deliver your best live readings. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6.
Cath Drake, poet, will be giving a reading and talk about her new poetry collection, The Shaking City published by Seren – ‘a guide to staying clear-eyed, combative and caring in unsettled times.” 6-7pm. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Darren O’Sullivan, 8pm-9pm. Darren O’Sullivan is the author of #1 bestsellers, OUR LITTLE SECRET, CLOSE YOUR EYES and CLOSER THAN YOU THINK. His latest, DARK CORNERS is out April 2020, and he’ll be chatting about it here. Chaired by Vic Watson. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Sunday 5 April
Staying True – how to make your crime fiction more authentic. 9-10am. Police consultant and author Graham Bartlett hosts a talk and Q&A on how nailing down the details in your crime fiction will take its authenticity to the next level. Let Graham know the crime, policing or criminal justice areas you’d like him to cover by dropping him a line at https://policeadvisor.co.uk/contact/. He’ll do his best to include as many as possible. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Una McCormack, Tiffani Angus, Gemma Milne, Eddie Robson,12-1pm. Launching in Lockdown. You’ve written a book. You’re hoping it will be noticed. And then… We can’t tour, we can’t launch, but we can still connect online. How can we bring our books to people’s attention? Five authors launching their work discuss how to get the news of their books out there. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Is there a Right Way to Write? Join writers Sarah Stovell, Nicola Cassidy, and Cat Walker as they dissect the ways that they go about their writing. Chaired by CJ Cooke. 4-5pm. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
Butcher’s Dog showcase. 6-7pm. Chaired by editor Jo Clement. Butcher’s Dog poetry is a bi-annual poetry magazine founded and published in North East England. Get the kettle on and make yourself couch-comfy as we join a selection of our brilliant poets reading from past editions and sharing their new work. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/qqpshu6
There’s no need to register interest. Simply click on the join link of the event you are interesting in. Make sure to mute your microphone so that there’s no feedback noise. But of course unmute if you are taking part in a Q&A.
You can find out more here.
As you’ll know doubt agree the line up looks fantastic, even more so because C J Cooke only had the brainwave on 13 March. It’s so wonderful to see so many authors coming together in such a short space of time to help create such a diverse programme.
So sit back, relax and enjoy this literary festival from the comfort of your own armchair.