Steven Moffat at Hay Festival 2014 by Jaffa

Being a Whovian, I was very much looking forward to seeing Steven Moffat, and by the sound of things, so was everyone else – as soon as he entered the tent, everyone erupted into the loudest cheer I have heard yet. He was very funny, and the best thing he said was, “My wife divorced me she thought I liked television more than her. I proved her point by writing a sitcom about it.”

He made everyone laugh and didn’t use too many big words, which I expected him to do as he writes so much using big and clever words. Asked what would be in the next series of Dr Who, he said, “I have lots of things in my head… but I’m not giving away any of them.” I think the best question was, “What do you find harder, finding a pre-written text and putting it into a modern script, or writing your own plot?” The answer was, “They’re both very hard.”

By Jaffa.
Jaffa, 13, is a Whovian who spends an awful lot of time writing stories and playing piano.

Anthony Horowitz at Hay Festival 2014 by Finn

I went to see Anthony Horowitz to talk about his new book, ‘Russian Roulette’, part of the popular Alex Rider books, which he wrote 15 years ago. The difference between the books is that the earlier Alex Rider ones are from the perspective of the good guy and ‘Russian Roulette’ is the other way around.

He was very funny and said that when he was smaller he asked his mum to buy him a human skull for his birthday. He wasn’t sure who was weirder: him for asking for it – or his mum for buying it! Then he chatted about films not being as good as books because with books you have the power of imagination.

I would highly recommend reading his books as they are gripping and you cannot put them down. So go to the nearest bookshop and buy one of his books!!!!

By Finn.
Finn, 11, likes reading, tennis, drawing and being outside.

Laura Bates at Hay Festival 2014 by Clara

I am a feminist. Whoops. The number of people who would be undeniably and/or unashamedly put off by that statement is a testament to how depressingly internalised sexism is in our society, and indeed throughout the world. Unless, of course, people are outwardly misogynistic, which happens (surprisingly or unsurprisingly) all too often.
Laura Bates’ book, ‘Everyday Sexism’, is full of accounts (many from girls, a handful from boys) of people’s experiences of sexism. And it’s not just apparent in the young or uneducated: one account is that of a Cambridge University student who was asked by a don on her first day if she had to ‘bend over’ to get in.
But the talk, like the book, was not only an explanation of how (and to some extent why) this harassment (and assault) takes place, but also tackled how to combat and counteract this, and even educate people out of the normalised, implicitly sexist culture that, in my opinion, stems from the patriarchy.
Bates may not be the first to have the idea of making relationship education (including the idea of clear lessons on what consent is) a compulsory government initiative, but she certainly seems to be the first to voice this on such a public platform. Could that have an effect? Maybe, if she gets enough people behind her.
Though her talk and book are real eye openers to all the nastiness that seems to have been ignored, it’s heartening to walk into a tent full of people who are there to listen and to learn. It’s nothing short of emotional when a young boy gets up to talk of his experiences with watching sexism at his own school and what he’s done to try to stop it. It’s something quite incredible to hear about the tens of thousands of girls that have shared their experiences. Maybe, just maybe, something can be done. And there’s nowhere to go but up.

By Clara.
Clara is 15 and enjoys Homer, but is an unabashed fan of Harry Potter.

RSC Workshop at Hay Festival 2014 by Patrick

On Wednesday I did a workshop in the Scribblers’ Hut about Shakespeare’s histories, run by the RSC. We performed extracts from Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI. We all played different characters; I played the roles of Henry IV, Henry Hotspur, Henry V and Margaret Beaufort! There was a group of about 15 of us, children and adults, and we all learnt something new about the history plays, including the dramatic speeches. We also re-enacted the battles and as we died in an extremely over-the-top way, bellowing one of Shakespeare’s lines. Overall, I thought it was a great experience as well as great fun, and anyone who is interested in Shakespeare, acting or just wants to try something new should go along.

By Patrick.

Michael Morpurgo and Rae Smith at Hay Festival 2014 by Eleanor

A massive crowd turned up and the atmosphere was wonderful in the packed tent. Michael Morpurgo decided to begin the event by telling us how he came to write ‘War Horse’. It all began when he was talking to a soldier in a pub in Devon. He learned about the special bond between the men and their horses, and just knew that there was a story to tell. So the book was published from the horse’s point of view.

Michael admits that he was originally dubious about the National Theatre’s plans to adapt ‘War Horse’ into a play: “It is in World War One, you can’t turn it into a pantomime with puppet horses!” But by now, he can see what a huge success it is.

Then Rae (‘War Horse’ artist) and Ben (‘War Horse’ actor and singer) were welcomed warmly on to the stage. The three of them created a spectacular performance. Michael read extracts of the book, Ben sang, and throughout, Rae was sketching scenes beautifully in charcoal.

But the most fantastic surprise was when Michael ordered us to be silent and Joey (the horse puppet) galloped into the tent! The puppeteers did such an amazing job that it was hard to believe he wasn’t real. In fact, when question time came, a little boy shot up his hand and asked, “Where did the horse, Joey, come from?”

By Eleanor.
Eleanor, 14, loves cats and reading fantasy epics (preferably about dragons).

Darren Shan at Hay Festival 2014 by Dylan

Shivers ran down my spine and my hair began to spike as Darren Shan read a disgusting and gruesome scene from his book Zom-B, one of the most descriptive books I have ever read! Darren Shan is an amazing author who writes horror/fantasy and does a good job of it too. His books are gripping and thrilling with suspense and great cliff-hangers that leave you thirsting for more. But thankfully he writes a book every three months so he doesn’t keep you waiting for too long. He has always wanted to be a writer and his mother inspired him the most because she taught him to read. Altogether he is an experimental, engaging and awesome author who writes brilliant, exciting must-read books!

By Dylan.
Dylan, 10, likes Minecraft, reading, trampoline and adventure.

Oliver Jeffers, Rachel Bright and Chris Haughton at Hay Festival 2014 by Eleanor

“All good illustrators give layers of a story,” said Rachel Bright. She, Oliver Jeffers, and Chris Haughton all write picture books, and all have their own stories to tell.

If you haven’t studied art at college, or you just have completely different interests, do not think that it is too late to get started with picture books? was one question posed to the panel. Oliver Jeffers had never intended to be an author, and Rachel Bright had numerous other jobs before writing. She was an air steward and even claims to have been taken hostage by Daleks – as an extra on ‘Doctor Who’. It was solar etching that she used to make her first book, ‘Love Monster’. She just loved the idea of “a book made of sunshine”. Now, as well as her books, she has her own range of witty greeting cards and gifts called The Bright Side.

Chris Haughton talked about the process of writing his three books – ‘A Bit Lost’, ‘Oh No George!’ and ‘Shh! We Have a Plan’. He says that one of the key aspects of creating a good story is to have a character with whom readers can identify. Chris was also greatly influenced by Fair Trade work he did with the ethical fashion business People Tree. He’s currently working on Monkey – an interactive app for toddlers. Fingers crossed, it will be coming out soon! Oliver Jeffers discussed his different experiences in illustrating. He was originally inspired to write when it occurred to him that his sketches told stories – stories that couldn’t be expressed in just a series of images. They needed to become books. And so he created his first book, ‘How to Catch a Star’.

A member of the audience observed that there was not enough illustration in adult literature; the art of ‘picture reading’ is becoming scarce. We need to learn to appreciate the beauty of picture books as well as novels.

By Eleanor.
Eleanor, 14, loves cats and reading fantasy epics (preferably about dragons).

Steven Camden (Polarbear) at Hay Festival 2014 by Ben and Ru

Steven Camden talked about how rhyme helped him throughout his life and his first-ever performance, a spoken word contest at the literature festival, Slam, where he learnt he could make a living out of spoken word poetry.

The event involved the audience writing short rhymes and saying them out loud. Steven also made up short stories and recited spoken word poetry.

We thought it was good fun for both adults and children, and we highly recommend getting his book. We really liked the way he included the audience and made everyone feel comfortable when reading out their rhymes.

The way he told his poems was just amazing, he acted along as he told his stories. The speed at which he recited the spoken word poems was phenomenal and his rhymes were witty.

By Ben and Ru.

Ben is 13 likes reading, music (listening and making), and gaming.
Ru, also 13, likes fencing, rugby and gaming.

Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart at Hay Festival 2014 by Eleanor

“I don’t know how we’ve managed to work together for so many years.” That was our introduction to Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, the funny, quirky, author and illustrator duo.

Together they explored the wonders of The Edge, a world where science works miracles, with floating cities and solidified lightning. Starting with just a map of this world, they created the best-selling series ‘The Edge Chronicles’. They read an extract from their latest book (one of a new trilogy), and then told us the exciting news that soon there will be a television series about the adventures!

It seems that the pair have been very busy lately. On top of the latest ‘Edge Chronicles’, Chris and Paul are working on a completely different trilogy of books: ‘Scavenger’. Both of them were obsessed with sci-fi novels as teenagers and have decided that they wish to return to the genre.

This story is set in the future, when humankind is migrating to a new planet, and their robots have turned against them. Men have had to go into hiding within their own spaceship. But the robots are hunting them down….

By Eleanor.
Eleanor is 14. She loves cats and reading fantasy epics (preferably about dragons).

Darren Shan at Hay Festival 2014 by Ben and Ru

We went to see Darren Shan talk about his new series of books called ZOM-B. He confessed that he wasn’t originally going to put zombies in his book as he mainly wanted to write a political novel about racism, but he decided to throw them in to spice things up.

Commenting on his book ‘Cirque du Freak’ being made into a film he said he never really got involved with adaptations from book to a film.

When asked what his main inspiration was he said, “My mum – I know it sounds corny”.

We thought that it was well presented and when he read extracts from his books he made the whole audience fall silent and listen intently, and we found out that Darren is going to be a father, so best of luck to him!

By Ben and Ru.

Ben is 13 and likes reading, music (listening and making) and gaming.
Ru is also 13 and likes fencing, rugby and gaming.


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