The Stay at Home Literary Festival – week 2

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. From 27 March to 11 April a myriad array of authors will take part in online events.

The Stay at Home Literary Festival continues apace next week. Here’s what you can virtually attend, and the best part – no dress code!

Monday 6 April

Writing in Collaboration, 12-1pm. Is writing always a solo act, or does it involve community? What can collaboration bring to the creative process? Join this exciting group of writers as they talk about the importance of collaboration in their work. Alyson HallettLyle Skains,  Jo Clement, Sherezade Garcia Rangel and Defne Cizacka. Join here

Louisa Adjoa Parker, 1-2pm. Recently commended in the National Poetry Competition, Louisa is a writer of poetry, fiction and BAME history. Join us as she reads from her latest collection How to Wear a Skin, which is an exploration of identity. Mostly set in south west England, Parker explores themes including place, race, friendship, motherhood, love, and loss, as well as what’s happening in society today. She takes inspiration from her own story and the imagined stories of others – a boy at a train station; a woman with a tattoo – and weaves them together in her quest to understand our place in a beautiful, yet fractured world. Join here

Tania Hershman, 2-3pm. Award-winning short story writer and RLF fellow Tania Hershman will read from and chat about her two new books: her poetry pamphlet, How High Did She Fly?, joint winner of the 2019 Live Canon pamphlet competition, and her hybrid book, and what if we were all allowed to disappear’, published on March 5th by Guillemot Press. Join here

Lyle Skains, 3-5pm. Innovations in digital and interactive writing and publishing. Short talk + Workshop on interactive forms of writing (collaborative, cooperative, interactive, Twine games, etc.), with workshop activities in various media/methods. Join here

Sherezade Garcia Rangel, 5.30-7pm. The Literary Podcast, chaired by Lizy Newswanger. Join here

Nikki SmithClare PooleyTrevor WoodLouise Fein, Susan Allott and Frances Quinn, chaired by CJ Cooke. 7-8pm. Debut authors 2020 – route to publication in a challenging environment. Join these debut authors as they talk about their journey to publication, offer tips, advice, and launching their first books in a pandemic! Join here

Carrie Etter. 8-9pm. Carrie Etter will read from her third collection of poetry, Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), shortlisted from the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and answer questions. Etter has published four collections of poetry, most recently The Weather in Normal (UK: Seren; US: Station Hill, 2018), and published poems in The New Republic, The New Statesman, The Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Boston Review, and many other journals and anthologies worldwide. Join here

Tuesday 7 April

Molly Brown, 10-12pm. Workshop: Creative Writing Practice: Strong Characters and POV (partnered exercises). Notebooks and fast-writing pens or pencils please – we won’t use keyboards. Please email beforehand: Limited to first 10. Once you RSVP, Molly will send you a Zoom link.

John Yorke, 12-1pm. Narrative Structure for Novelists. Bestselling author of Into the Woods 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

Stephanie Butland, 1-2pm. ‘Writing the Feminist Novel’ Stephanie Butland discusses her novel ‘The Woman In The Photograph’ and the challenges and joys of being a 21st century feminist looking back. Join here

The Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse: Using fiction to challenge the public story on domestic and sexual violence. 2-3pm. Five members of Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRIVA) at Durham University, discuss how crime writers can use new directions in research to help challenge the public story on domestic and sexual violence. With: Professor Nicole Westmarland and Dr Stephen Burrell on the role of gender and masculinities (see Project Mirabel), Professor Catherine Donovan, author of Queering Narratives of Domestic Violence and Abuse
Dr Hannah Bows, author of Sexual Violence against Older PeopleDr Fiona Vera-Gray, author of The Right Amount of Panic: How women trade freedom for safety. Join here

Mab Jones, Author of Tomorrow: adventure writing for children, teens, and young adults, will be live streaming adventure writing workshop for young writers 21 and under inc. parents / children of any age! 3-4pm. Join here

Alyson Hallett, Penelope Shuttle & Victoria Field. Allyson is a poet who is interested in the visual and spatial impact of words, and explores poetry in public art by collaborating with a wide variety of artist. Penelope Shuttle is an award-winning poet. Victoria Field is a Certified Poetry Therapist. They will be reading from their recent books, including LZRD, 4-5pm. Join here

Dr Tiffani AngusDoing a higher degree in Creative Writing (what does it mean to do an MA or even PhD in Creative Writing?) 5-6pm. Join here

Emma Flint, The Route to Publication. How does a writer get published? Emma Flint, author of the critically acclaimed novel Little Deaths, discusses her publication journey, as well as her research process and her new book. 6-7pm. Join here

Crime Panel. Join crime writers Susi HollidayAmanda JenningsSteph Broadribb and Ed James as they discuss their forays into crime fiction. 7-8pm. Join here

Wednesday 8 April

Molly Brown, 10am-12. Creative Writing Practice – Negative Capability & Finding Creative Flow (selected poems and The Pearl Necklace Exercise) Please email beforehand: Notebooks and fast-writing pens or pencils please – we won’t use keyboards. Limited to first 10. Once you RSVP, Molly will send you a Zoom link.

I Want You To Know We’re Still Here – Esther Safran Foer. 12-1pm.
Named by Washington Magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in Washington, Esther Safran Foer served for 10 years as CEO of the synagogue Sixth & I. She is also the mother of Jonathan Safran Foer, the award-winning author of Everything is Illuminated. Her honest yet uplifting post-holocaust memoir I Want You to Know We’re Still Here(April 2020) tells the true family story that inspired her son’s novel. It follows her trip to Ukraine to find out more about her half-sister – killed during the Holocaust and never spoken about by her father – and the family who risked their lives to hide her them during the war. Join here

Therapeutic Journal Writing. 1-2pm. 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 to sign up. Anne will send a Zoom link upon confirmation of your place.

Ken Evans, 2-3pm. Join poet Ken Evans as he reads from and discusses his debut poetry collection True Forensics. Join here

We Begin at the End by CWA Dagger Chris Whitaker 3-4pm. We Begin At The End follows the devastating aftermath of a brutal crime across a tight-knit community, set in small-town America. When a terrible turn of events put the ones she loves in danger, how far will spirited teenager Duchess go to save her family? A stunning read that is immersive and incredibly moving. Also featuring Tom Wood (author), Lisa Howells (Heat Mag and Crime Monthly) and Isabelle Broom (author & chair). Join here

Tiffani Angus, 4-5pm, Writing Historical Fantasy: Research as a Catalyst. Join here

Secrets & Lies: Psychological thrillers to keep you guessing. 5-6pm. This is one event you don’t want to miss! Join multi-million bestselling writers Adele Parks (‘Lies, Lies, Lies’), Christina Dalcher (‘Vox’), and Sunday Times Bestseller Sarah Vaughan (‘Anatomy of a Scandal’) as they talk to CJ Cooke about their brilliant new books. Join here

The Dark Pull of True Crime. 6-7pm. Join publisher Grace Harrison and writers Susannah Stapleton and Cara Hunter in conversation with Lee Randall as they dissect the ethics of writing true crime and basing crime fiction on fact. Join here

Emily KochMason CrossKat Diamond, Jenny Blackhurst Mark Edwards, Crime Writing Panel, 7-8pm. Come hear a fantastic group of authors chat about their work in the genre of crime fiction. Join here

New Writing Showcase, hosted by Janet Floyer. 8-9pm. Come and support these emerging stars as they read their work! Join here

Thursday 9 April

Tom Bromley10-11am. Some Points of View on Points of View. Join Faber Academy tutor Tom Bromley for a session about the choices and challenges of using point of view in fiction, and take part in a Q&A session afterwards. Join here

Mary J. Oliver, 11am-12pm. Join poet Mary J. Oliver as she reads from her memoir ‘Jim Neat’. Followed by Q &A session on how to kick-start your own innovative life-writing. Join here

Kim NashTania Hershman and Louisa Adjoa Parker. 12-1pm. Writers talking about their process. What does a creative process look like? Does everyone have the same process, or does it differ, and how? How can you kick-start your own creative practice? Come listen to these fantastic writers discuss theirs! Join here

Defne Cizakca, 1-2pm. A discussion of the “Trans* Guesthouse,” a literary and visual collaboration shining light on an LGBTQI shelter in Istanbul, Turkey. Join here

Katie Munnik & Alexandra Ford, 2.30-4pm. Both Sides Now: Two debut historical novels 75 years on from WWII. Both Katie (The Heart Beats in Secret, Harper Collins UK)  and Alexandra (What Remains at the End, Seren Books) confront questions of family memory, the effects of emigration from post-war Europe, and the dangers  – and gifts – of secrets. Join here

Open mic afternoon! Hosted by Janet Floyer. 4-5pm. Are you a writer? Can you read your work for 5 minutes to an audience of literature lovers? Come along! Your writing career begins HERE. Email beforehand to confirm your slot – Join here

Writers and their pets. 5-6pm. Join Julie CohenRowan Coleman (and Blossom, Bluebell and Meg), and James Withey in discussion about the most under-estimated element of the writing life: a pet! Join here

Christina Thatcher, 6-7pm. Join poet and lecturer, Christina Thatcher, for a reading from her new poetry collection, How to Carry Fire (Parthian Books), followed by a Q&A. These poems examine both literal and metaphorical fires and speak ‘powerfully to the things that love can survive’ (Jonathan Edwards). Join here

The Best, Most Awful Job contributors in discussion with editor Katherine May about motherhood. Contributors to this anthology talk honestly about the many different ways to be a mother: single parenting, stepmothering, trying to conceive, dating as a mother, life after children, and much more. 7-8pm. Join here

Henry Hemming, 8-9pm. Our Man in New York. An interactive 45-minute talk inspired by Henry Hemming’s new book Our Man in New York – the eye-opening story of how the British used ‘fake news’ to help bring the United States into the Second World War. Join here

Friday 10 April

Therapeutic Journal Writing. 9.30-10.30am. 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 to sign up. Anne will send a Zoom link upon confirmation of your place.

Swapna Haddow, 10.30-11.30am. Writing Young Fiction workshop. All ages welcome! Join here

Newcastle Noir event. 12-1pm. Northern crime writers talk about the impact of the North on their work, chaired by Dr Jacky Collins (aka Dr Noir). Featuring Judith O’Reilly/Rob Scragg/Robert Parker/Chris McGeorge/Adam Peacock (panel line-up TBC). Join here

Historical Novels Between Bodice Rippers and Bring Up the Bodies. 1-2pm. The style and quality of historic novels can differ so vastly – join Ellen Alpsten, bestselling author Natasha Pulley (‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’) and Daisy Goodwin (‘Victoria’) as they discuss the enduring appeal of historical fiction and our fascination with the past. Does it reveal a longing for more social proximity and cohesion or, on the contrary, more distance and mystique? Join here

Alex Johnson, 3-4pm. Alex will be reading from his two latest books, Menus That Made History and How To Give Your Child A Lifelong Love Of Reading. Join here

The Road to publication… and beyond! 4-5pm. Is the publication journey for every writer the same? Join Kate Hamer, Rachel Marks, and Lucy Atkins as they talk about how they got their work agented and published, and discuss what a writer’s life looks like. Join here

Women and Crime, 5-6pm. Whether as readers, writers, detectives, victims or perpetrators women have always been steeped in crime. Join writers Emma Flint, Laura LaaksoMary Paulson-Ellis and Susannah Stapleton as they each bring a unique perspective to the dissection of this fascinating topic. Join here

Samantha Downing, in conversation with CJ Cooke. 6-7pm Everything you ever wanted to know about her smash hit novel My Lovely Wife (which has just been optioned for the big screen) and her new book, He Started It. Join here

Dr Pragya AgarwalJess Traynor, Dr Dominique Thompson, 7-8pm. Motherhood and Writing. Join a behavioural scientist, a poet, and a young people’s mental health expert as they debate the issue of motherhood in contemporary writing. Join here

Another fantastic line up. I do hope you manage to attend a few of the sessions. Let me know which catch your eye.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks like a great second week. My work is still hectic so I can’t join in, but I think its a brilliant thing!


    1. janetemson says:

      With the kids and work I don’t think I’ll be able to go either. And there are so many great sounding events!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful line-up! Thanks so much for sharing this Janet – will try to join in! 😀


    1. janetemson says:

      Hope you like the events you go to 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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