The fifth annual Litfest takes place from Tuesday, September 27 until Sunday, October 2 at venues around the Island. Joining Martina and Sally will be poet Hollie McNish and authors Cathy Cassidy, Sharon Blackie, Kevin MacNeil, Jon Bounds and Danny Smith, alongside writer, filmmaker and broadcaster Andrew White – with more names to be confirmed.
Last year’s Litfest was a huge success, both with the audiences and the authors, poets, illustrators and storytellers who took part. We have been fine tuning the festival with each passing year, and we have exciting plans in store for Litfest 2016. It’s always a great thrill to unveil our line-up, and this year’s is no exception – and we will have more to unveil in the next month or so.
Hailed the ‘queen of crime drama’, Martina Cole is the author of 22 novels, several of which have been adapted for TV, including Sky’s The Take, which starred Tom Hardy. In 2011, she passed the £50 million mark in UK book sales, becoming the first British female novelist of books for adult audiences to achieve this since records began.
Sally Gardner is an acclaimed award-winning author, who writes for children of all ages. Her books include Maggot Moon (winner of the Costa Children’s Book Prize and the Carnegie Medal 2013), The Red Necklace (shortlisted for 2007 Guardian Book Prize), and I, Coriander (winner of the 2005 Nestle Children’s Book Prize). Her books have been translated into 22 languages. Sally is in the 4% of the population classified as severely dyslexic – and she is an avid spokesperson for dyslexia.
Cathy Cassidy was the winner of the ‘Queen of Teen’ title in 2010, and has written 23 novels, the majority aimed at teenage girls, including Broken Heart Club and Looking-Glass Girl.
Poet Hollie McNish – aka Hollie Poetry – won the UK Slam Poetry Competition in 2009 and went on to finish 3rd in the global Slam Du Monde contest. Several of her YouTube videos have gone viral and have been viewed several million times.
A novelist, workshop leader and founder of Earthlines magazine, Sharon Blackie has a background working with mythology and Celtic literature. Based in Ireland, her new book is If Women Rose Rooted, subtitled The Power of the Celtic Woman.
Gaelic speaker Kevin MacNeil is a novelist, poet, screenwriter and tutor. Born in the Outer Hebrides, Kevin published a poetry anthology in 2015, Struileag: Shore to Shore, a collection celebrating the Gaelic diaspora. His latest novel is The Brilliant and Forever - about a festival that takes place on an island.
Andrew White specialises in walking, the great outdoors, travel, heritage, transport, among other topics. Andrew is no stranger to the Island, having visited several times to work on various projects.
Jon Bounds and Danny Smith are the authors of a new book, Pier Review, which has just been published. Before the seaside of their youth disappears forever, the book follows their adventures as they embark on ‘an ill-advised journey to see all the surviving pleasure piers in England and Wales, a funny and nostalgic look at Britishness at the beach, amusement in the arcades, and friendship on the road’.
As with past festivals, we feel it is vital to create a vibrant and balanced line-up, covering various genres and styles, with the aim of creating a celebration of literature that appeals to as wide an audience as possible. We like to mix the bestsellers with the debut authors – Martina Cole is one of the most popular British crime writers around, while Jon and Danny’s first book has just been published and they are now starting the publicity drive. They were fascinated to learn about Queen’s Pier, and the restoration project that is underway, and given the huge interest in Queen’s Pier, we’re sure they will attract a strong audience at the festival.
The schedule for Manx Litfest 2016 will be unveiled in the coming months, but it will again feature the Schools’ Day on Friday, September 30, and the popular Family Day on Saturday, October 1 – the theme for which is a closely guarded secret, but trust us, it’s an exciting one. The Saturday is also home to Writers’ Day, which is our annual event at King William’s College, involving workshops, panel discussions, talks and agent pitch slots. We have some superb news to announce soon, which comes as a direct result of previous writers’ days, and showcases what a wonderful opportunity they present to Island writers to develop their skills and careers.
Manx Litfest is all about the community pulling together to encourage a love of storytelling, and fundamental to that is the many events we put on for children. We have a strong committee and a team of fabulous and dedicated volunteers, supported by so many organisations, including libraries and schools, and not forgetting our partner bookseller, Bridge Bookshop in Port Erin, who do so much to help make Litfest a success.