Big-name authors at Litfest, which promises something for everyone

Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner

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The line-up of visiting authors and poets has been confirmed for the third annual Manx Litfest, which takes place in September at venues across the island.

The festival will run from Wednesday, September 24, until Sunday, September 28, with award-winning authors Sally Gardner, Mark Billingham and Philip Reeve among the big names set to entertain book fans.

Festival director John Quirk said: ‘We are thrilled to have attracted more fantastic names this year, a job which is being made easier year on year by the positive feedback we’ve received from the first two festivals. There should be something for everyone, of all ages, be it the Roald Dahl Family Day at Laxey Glen Gardens, the crime writers’ event, Neil Spring and his book The Ghost Hunters, or the Writers’ Day, which will again be held at King William’s College.

‘We’re spreading things out over five days this year, instead of four, with the Poetry Slam kicking things off on the Wednesday night at Jabberwocky, for which we’re delighted to have UK performance poet Mark Grist as compere for the night, and we’re hoping for another full house after the success of last year’s slam.

‘The full schedule for Litfest 2014 will be on our website - - in the next week or two, along with details of how to obtain tickets, and our free printed programmes will be distributed soon after via various outlets.’

The line-up of visiting authors and poets is:

Mark Billingham - acclaimed crime author, whose Tom Thorne series has won a number of awards, including the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year twice; the first two books in the series, Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat, were adapted by Sky TV, with David Morrissey in the lead role

Sara Crowe - Sara’s debut young adult novel Bone Jack was published in April, and Litfest is delighted to welcome her back to the Island; a nature writer, she was a guest at the inaugural Manx Litfest in 2012, when she teamed up with Deep Country author Neil Ansell

Sally Gardner - author of Maggot Moon, winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Carnegie Medal, and I, Coriander, winner of the Smarties Prize

Mark Grist - a poet and educational consultant, Mark was named Poet Laureate of Peterborough in 2008, Chief Bard of the Fens in 2009 and Edinburgh Fringe Slam Champion in 2010. He will be performing his show, Rogue Teacher, at Noa Bakehouse on the night of Friday, September 26

Mark Lowery - Children’s author, whose first two novels - Socks Are Not Enough and Pants Are Everything - were both shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, which is why he’s been asked to take the lead for our Roald Dahl Family Day (sponsored by Sure) at Laxey Glen Gardens on Saturday, September 27

Sarah McIntyre - an author and illustrator, Sarah recently teamed up with Philip Reeve for a series of books, the first of which was Oliver and the Seawigs, with the second - Cakes in Space - published this September

Nicola Morgan - an author, educationalist and professional speaker, Nicola writes novels for the young adult market, and a series of non-fiction books on the adolescent brain and mind, the latest of which - The Teenage Guide to Stress - was published earlier this month. Nicola is also renowned for her straight-talking advice for aspiring writers

Donald S Murray - author, poet and Scottish Gaelic speaker, Donald lives in Shetland and his books include The Guga Hunters and Small Expectations. His visit to Litfest will coincide with his research into the herring industry around the British Isles

Philip Reeve - author of the hugely popular Mortal Engines/Traction Cities series, the first of which won the Smarties Prize, while the fourth - A Darkling Plain - won him the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. He has also won the Carnegie Medal for Here Lies Arthur

Harri Sansostri - 12-year-old Harri is an actor and author of The Little Dudes’ Skool Survival Guide, which he wrote last year on how to deal with school bullies

Samantha Shannon - author of The Bone Season, the first of a series of seven books published by Bloomsbury, the movie rights for which have been picked up by 20th Century Fox

Neil Spring - author of The Ghost Hunters, his debut novel; based on the true life events at Borley Rectory, dubbed the most haunted house in England, it has been optioned for a TV series by the team behind Midsomer Murders

Jo Swainson - literary agent with the Hardman and Swainson agency, who is returning to the island after being involved with Litfest 2012, when she signed up two Isle of Man writers who pitched their manuscript to her

Martyn Waites - joining Mark Billingham on the crime night (Saturday, September 27 - sponsored by IQE), Martyn writes under his own name and also Tania Carver - as well as crime, Martyn wrote the sequel to Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black - Angel of Death

John said: ‘In addition to the visiting authors and poets, there will be a number of island-based writers involved with the festival, some of whom will be taking part in panel discussions at the Writers’ Day, while others will be involved with the schools day, which is again one of our most important events.

‘The schools day will be on Friday, September 26. It creates such a fantastic buzz each year, not just among the children, but the teachers, the Litfest team and the authors and poets taking part. We’re delighted that Isle of Man Bank has again agreed to sponsor the schools day, which is such vital support, as it allows us to deliver the day free to schools and help inspire children of all ages to read more and write more.’

John added: ‘This year’s Writers’ Day, sponsored for the second year by Pokerstars, will involve a series of talks, panel discussions, workshops and pitch sessions aimed at writers - both published and unpublished - in the island. We were really pleased with how this event went down last year, and given the interest shown so far for this year’s Writers’ Day, we’re expecting it to attract even more writers.

‘Once again, we’re indebted to the financial assistance provided by Isle of Man Arts Council and Culture Vannin, along with our numerous sponsors.’

The Litfest team and the festival’s partner bookseller, the Bridge Bookshop in Port Erin, attended Tynwald Day and the Southern Agricultural Show to promote this year’s festival, and the publicity will continue at the Royal Manx Agricultural Show (August 8/9) and the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival, which takes place in the Villa Marina Gardens on September 20/21, the weekend before Litfest.

Anyone interested in becoming a ‘Friend of Manx Litfest’ should email for details.

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