Hay Festival 23rd May to 2nd June 2019

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

Hay Festival cr Finn Beales

I remember visiting Hay-on-Wye as a child and being entranced by this place built, it seemed, entirely on, around and with books. Yet I’ve never yet made it to any of the much lauded Hay Festivals (have you noticed how they’ve spread throughout the world? Good to know that the love of the written word is so contagious).

The festival runs from 23rd May until 2nd June 2019. The organisers say: “The line-up features over 600 writers and thinkers in events over 11 days, spanning award-winning fiction, non-fiction and poetry; science and tech; UK politics; global affairs; sustainability (Green Hay); a rich strand for children and families; a free programme for schools; and a vibrant line-up of late night music, comedy and performance.”

With the strapline: “Let’s talk. Let’s Listen”, speakers and inspirers include Arundhati Roy, Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson, Caroline Criado Perez, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig, Jimmy Carr, Bill Bailey, Sara Pascoe, Nish Kumar, Judith Kerr, Jo Brand, Jacqueline Wilson, Maxine Peake, Max Porter, Germaine Greer, Joanna Lumley, Carole Cadwalladr, Fintan O’Toole, Emily Maitlis, Robert Macfarlane, Monty Don, and Moby.

If you can only make it to one event, don’t miss novelists Jayne Joso and Deborah Kay Davies in conversation with Dylan Moore on Wednesday 29th May.

Get your tickets from www.hayfestival.com. And if you’re lucky enough to attend any of the events, please let me know! I’d love to publish your festival review on SkyLightRain.com. Just email me at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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A literary winter solstice

Dusk by Judy DarleyThis year’s Solstice Shorts Festival hosted by micro publisher Arachne Press takes us from the 2017 theme of Dusk into the apex of the fleeting hours of sunlight with Noon.

For 2018, the Winter Solstice is on Friday 21st December in the UK. While it may not have the latest sunrise or earliest sunset, in terms of daylight, there are eight hours, 49 minutes fewer than on the Summer Solstice.

Marking this special date, Solstice Shorts Festival unfolds in Greenwich and across the UK with prose, poetry and music all centred on the day’s centre.

Everyone who submitted and had their creative works selected should have been informed by now. Congratulations!

Organiser Cheryl says: “This year the festival celebrates the highest the sun gets, which in December, isn’t very far, depending on where you are. In Greenwich, home to Solstice Shorts and the accurate measurement of time, noon on 21st December will be at 11.58. So I guess we’ll be starting a bit before twelve to make sure we mark it appropriately, although of course, in Aberdeen noon isn’t until 12:06, and Cork 12.31!”

Find full details of what’s happening where and how you can get involved at arachnepress.comAnd while you’re at it, why not save yourself some precious time and buy one or more of their 2018 anthologies as festive gifts for your loved ones?

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London Literature Festival 2017

Chibundu Onuzo_credit_Blake Images

Chibundu Onuzo. Photo by Blake Images

This year’s London Literature Festival hosted by the South Bank Centre invites us to “explore the world in which we live and celebrate the power of literature to reflect on the burning issues of our times”

The festival takes place from 18th-28th October 2018 and is crammed with enticing options.

Mary Beard credit Caterina Turroni

Mary Beard. Photo by Caterina Turroni

Look out for freshly commissioned works receiving their world premieres, live readings, book launches, exclusive in-conversation events with the likes of Salman Rushdie and Marilynne Robinson, family-friendly fun, free encounters and thought-prosing literary debates. Highlights include new releases from Sally Field, Olafur Eliasson and Sue Perkins. And don’t miss a cast of high calibre actors performing a specially commissioned live reading of Homer’s The Odyssey, followed by panel discussions featuring Mary Beard, Madeline Miller, Sharlene Teo, Simon Goldhill and more.

Roger Daltrey credit Fabrice Demessence

Roger Paltry. Photo by Fabrice Demessence

Plus Carol Ann Duffy will present her last collection as Poet Laureate, Roger Paltry launches his new memoir Thanks a lot, Mr Kibblewhite: My Life, and there’ll be a world premiere performance of Chibundu Onuzo’s 1991, a new commission from Southbank Centre. Not to mention insights into writing practises of established authors and a chance to discover rising talents.

In short, have your imagination thoroughly stirred and your mind inspired.

For the full programme, visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk.

All images supplied by the South Bank Centre.

Writing prompt – dusk

Dusk-winter-trees-cr-Judy-Darley

As the days shorten and nights lengthen, my mind turns to the winter solstice, and to the Solstice Shorts Festival 2017 due to be hosted by micro publisher Arachne Press.

Arachne Press proprietor and publisher Cherry Potts is seeking submissions of new and unpublished poetry and prose on the theme of Dusk. What does it bring to mind for you?

Cherry describes dusk as “the last ‘official’ segment, when the sun is down, but there’s still a lingering light in the sky, through to out and out night.”

The deadline for submissions is 5th November 2017.

Think about how you can turn that time when light and dark hover around each other into a story or poem. Find out how to submit your words at arachnepress.com

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to Judy(at)socket creative.com to let me know. With your permission, I might publish it on SkyLightRain.com. You can help make the Solstices Shorts a nationwide festival.

Solstice Shorts Logo

Literary Bristol

Judy Darley in Redcliffe CavesBristol Festival of Literature returns from 19th-28th October 2017, with curious, intriguing, inspiring events popping up all over the city. I wrote a feature about it for The Bristol Magazine, titled Bookish Bristol, and was wowed by the options on offer. Events are already selling out, so get your tickets fast!

You can pick up copies of The Bristol Magazine all over the city, in cafes, hairdressers, estate agents and other businesses.

I’m taking part in a least two events. The first is Bristol Writers Group and Friends Go Into The Dark, taking place in Redcliffe Caves from 7-9pm on Tuesday 24th Oct. Tickets have already sold out! I’m one of the friends, and very excited to be invited back. Reading in the caves is a really magical event – it’s a wonderfully spooky environment. I’ll be sharing my tale Merrow Cave. The pic at the top of this post (photo taken by Sally Hare) shows me at a previous year’s event.

Tickets cost £5.50 each.

Novel Nights Oct 2017 readers

Novel Nights Oct 2017 readers

The second is Novel Nights, which I’ll be co-hosting with founder Grace Palmer from on Wednesday 25th October. Three local writing talents, Alison Brown, Kate Simants and Deborah Tomkins, will share novel extracts before Cornerstones literary editor Dionne McCulloch offers her insights on novel-writing and answers questions from the audience. It’s happening at The Square Club, 15 Berkeley Square, Bristol. Get tickets for £8 here.

There are so many other fabulous literary happenings to choose from too. Find the full programme and ticketing details at unputdownable.org. Hope to see you at an event or few!

Spring literary leaps at Southbank Centre

Neil Gaiman. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Author and fabulist Neil Gaiman. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Norse myths have been a source of inspiration for author and fabulist (how’s that for a job title) Neil Gaiman throughout his literary career. Discussing this influence and his latest book Norse Mythology (due out today – 7th February 2017), Neil Gaiman is part of Southbank Centre’s Spring Literature programme and year-long exploration of Nordic culture Nordic Matters.

On 15th February you can learn how Gaiman brings Norse gods to life through his inimitable fiction, where fantasy meets fairytale, fable, nightmare and happy endings in equal measure.

Other events to look out for include the Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival returns to Royal Festival Hall from 9th-19th February (speakers and storytellers include Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, Michael Morpurgo, cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, and Icelandic author Þórarinn Eldjárn), and Southbank Centre’s new year-long Belief and Beyond Belief festival, which examines belief, faith and spirituality as well as what it means to be human in the 21st century. So, plenty to inspire, intrigue and get your mind ticking!

To find out more and book, visit Southbank Centre’s website southbankcentre.co.uk or call the box office on 020 7960 4200

Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival 2016

St Peter Port cr VisitGuernsey

St Peter Port © VisitGuernsey

Tickets are now available for events at the first ever Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival, which takes place on the Channel Island of Guernsey from 2nd-10th April 2016. What a perfect excuse for a hit of springtime island hopping!

Toilers of the Sea by Victor HugoThe festival celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of Victor Hugo’s novel Toilers of the Sea, which was inspired by and set in Guernsey where he spent 15 years in exile from France from 1855. If you go along, you’ll have the to chance explore some of the historic events that influenced the book, while celebrating Victor Hugo’s life and works.

The eight-day extravaganza features exhibitions, paintings, talks, walks, films, performances, photographs and a one-day seminar from four world experts on Victor Hugo, al taking place at Guernsey landmarks, Hugo’s favourite haunts, and places that provided the inspiration for Toilers of the Sea 150 years ago.

The Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival is part of the wider Channel Island’s Heritage Festival 2016 (25 March – 10 May 2016) which this year takes a maritime focus, celebrating Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Herm and Sark’s relationship with their coastline and their seas.

Top things to do during the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival

1 Hugo’s Guernsey exhibition – 1-10 April

Throughout the Channel Island’s Heritage Festival, St Peter Port’s Priaulx Library will have a free exhibition of photographs and objects associated with the period of Hugo’s exile on the island.

2 Victor Hugo concert – 2nd April

Quebecois singer, songwriter and performer, Alain Lecompte, will lead a musical homage to Victor Hugo with excerpts from his internaionallly acclaimed ‘Hugo Live’ concert.  Lecompte will be joined in Guernsey by local choral ensemble, Bel Canto, at St James Concert Hall in St Peter Port. Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for students.

3 Seminars and lectures from Hugo experts – 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7th April

A series of seminars and lectures from leading authorities on the life and works of Victor Hugo will delve into the writer’s inspiration, influences and legacies. Events include ‘The Life of Victor Hugo in Exile’, a day-long seminar and Q&A session with four of the world’s most renowned experts on the French writer, a lecture by the designer of commemorative ‘Travailleurs’ stamps, a talk by the instigator of the Folio publication of the novel, and a WEA Maritime Heritage Series Lecture on Hugo’s relationship with the sea. Tickets range from free, for ‘The Art of Hugo’ lecture, to £20, for ‘Travailleurs, Creating the Stamps’ lecture lunch.

 In the Footsteps of Hugo – 2nd-10th April

During the eight day festival, there will be a series of two-hour long guided walks with experts departing a 10am and 2pm, to Hugo’s favourite spots on the island, which inspired many of the settings in both Toilers of the Sea and Les Miserables. The walks are priced at £8 per person.

5 Exhibition of Cartoons of Victor Hugo – 2nd-16th April (closed 3 April)

An exhibition of the caricatures of Victor Hugo published in the satirical press of his time will be on display throughout the festival in Guernsey’s capital of St Peter Port. Original caricatures will be exhibited at the Archive Centre for one week, while enlargements will be on show for two weeks at Inner Street Market. Admission is free.

Hauteville House cr VisitGuersey

Hauteville House © VisitGuersey

6 Tours of Hauteville House – 2nd April – 27th September

Visit the beautiful house where Victor Hugo lived during his time in exile on the island. Hauteville House was where he wrote many of his most well-known novels, including Toilers of the Sea. Tours take place daily throughout the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival and priced from £6 per person.

3 Hugo’s Banquet des Enfants – 3rd April

A six-course feast for 200 guests at Guernsey Market Buildings, replicating meals given by Victor Hugo to poor children at his home, Hauteville House. The lunch will be accompanied by live performances of music and drama.

Tickets for all events are available to purchase at www.Guernseytickets.gg. For full details on the festival, visit www.victorhugoinguernsey.gg

Find out more about visiting Guernsey at www.visitguernsey.com.

Celebrate writing at Manchester Literature Festival

Barton Arcade, Manchester cr Judy Darley

Barton Arcade, Manchester

Beginning today, the tenth annual Manchester Literature Festival promises numerous events celebrating writing in all its forms.

Highlights include novelists Margaret Atwood and Sarah Hall sharing disturbing visions of the future through their fiction, and Joanne Harris presenting a specially commissioned Writer’s Manifesto.

Words and music combine through unique collaborations with Manchester jazz festival and Manchester Camerata, an examination of WB Yeats influence on composers, and singer songwriter Kathryn Williams performing songs from her new album Hypoxia inspired by poet Sylvia Plath.

In another strand focusing on literary re-imaginings, with Anthony Horowitz introducing his new James Bond novel Trigger Mortis, and Jeanette Winterson launching her retelling of Shakespeare’s A Winters’ Tale. There’ll be discussions and literary strolls focusing on icons such as John le Carré, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Virginia Woolf, WB Yeats, and others.

Look out for theatrical adaptations of children’s picture books, an afternoon tea with Deborah Moggach, a screening of 45 Years – an adaptation of a short story by David Constantine – and much, much more.

Find full details at www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk.

Call for writers to take part in Penzance Literary Festival

Penzance cr Judy DarleyTelltales is inviting writers of short fiction to submit stories on the theme of ‘Tide and Time’ for the chance to be selected to read at Penzance’s annual literary festival.

They’re hoping the theme will “inspire writing flavoured with sea and salt, full of ebb and flow, flotsam and jetsom, in contemplation of being castaway or of eternity – but, as always, pieces on any subject will be considered.”

Your submission must be no more than 2,000 words long. The deadline for submissions is 9 July 2014.

The chosen writers will be invited to read their submission at The Admiral Benbow, Chapel Street, Penzance at 7pm on Saturday 19 July 2014.

I took part in last year’s TellTales at the Penzance Literary Festival, with my story The Scent of Summer, and had a wonderful time at the night of readings at the Admiral Benbow. Highly recommend it!

To find out more, visit www.telltales.org.uk

Enter a DNA-themed Flash Fiction Competition

DNA cr Judy DarleyDNA – what does it mean to you? It’s the reason why some of us have curly hair and other have none, and helps some of us run faster than others. It contributes to our personalities, our strengths and weaknesses and how our lives will pan out. That’s a lot of power for a squirling double helix, and it’s now 60 years since Francis Crick and James Watson made the discovery that changed our understanding of ourselves forever.

To mark this anniversary, Creative Industries Trafford and Manchester Literature Festival are collaborating to host a Flash Fiction Competition to coincide with the festival that runs from 7-20 October 2013.

You’re invited to create a piece of flash fiction inspired by the theme of DNA. They say: “We are interested in all genres of fiction and themes of creation, mutation, evolution and transformation.”

Stories should be no longer than 500 words and you may enter more than once. Entry is free.

Email submissions to literature@creativeindustriestrafford.org by 5pm on Monday 16th September 2013.

Looking for inspiration? Read The DNA of Bats, a specially commissioned short story by author Jane Rogers.

Find out more about writing flash fiction.

Full competition details can be found here.

The winning entries will be featured online during Manchester Literature Festival 2013 and short-listed authors will be invited to read their stories at a special event on Saturday 12th October at Waterside Arts Centre. The overall winner will receive £50-worth of book vouchers.