Monthly Archives: April 2012

Get Ready for three times the fun with the Etherington Brothers!

Happy April, HAY FEVER fans!
We are absolutely over-the-moon, tickled-pink delighted to be returning to the magnificent Hay Festival. We’ve been working hard on a brand new show that is guaranteed to get your imagination a-whirring and your funny bone a-giggling … er … can a funny bone laugh???
During our Lost and Found comic-creating workshop you’ll have the chance to discover our six super secret steps (try saying that fast!) to making awesome comics, based on the characters, settings and themes from our brand comic book adventure book, Baggage. If you love drawing, writing, reading or laughing, THIS is the event for you.
And if that wasn’t enough – it gets better!  This year we’ll also be performing our workshops as part of the programme for schools with two additional shows for years 5 & 6, and years 7 & 8.
So what are you waiting for – NOW is the time to start getting excited! We’ll see you all very soon!
Catch The Etherington Brothers at the festival on Saturday 2 June 2012, 1 pm
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Getting paid to make up weird stuff…

Our merry band of young writers, The Scribblers, posed some particularly brilliant questions to some of the artists appearing at Hay this year.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you their answers. Hurrah! It’s MARCUS SEDGWICK.

Describe your lastest book in five words.

Full moons illuminate sinister happenings.

If you had to pick one of your characters to spend the day with, which one would you choose?

I’d choose Ferelith from White Crow and see if I could cheer her up a bit 😉

Which writer, dead or alive, you would like to collaborate with?

I’d pick Edgar Allan Poe and write something really creepy 🙂

What’s the best thing about writing?

Where do I start? Getting paid to make up weird stuff? The long lie-ins? Lying on the sofa staring into space and being able to call it work? I could go on…

What’s your top tip for budding young writers?

Enjoy it. Always enjoy it and if you’re not, work out what’s wrong and what you could do instead that you’d enjoy more. Also, I think it’s important to try and finish what you start – don’t judge yourself too harshly but get stuff finished!

Catch Marcus Sedgwick at the festival with The Raven MysteriesSunday 3 June 1pm and with MidwinterbloodSunday 3 June 5.30pm.

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It’s behind you!

Our merry band of young writers, The Scribblers, posed some particularly brilliant questions to some of the artists appearing at Hay this year.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you their answers. Time for ANDREW HAMMOND

1. Describe your latest book (pictured) in 5 words.

Don’t – look – it’s – behind – you.


Gory – horror – meets – crime – thriller.

2.If you had to pick one of your characters to spend the day with, which one would you choose?

I’d pick Jud Lester. He’s fascinating: brave, determined, moody and mercurial. I like complex people like that. But I don’t know how much of a conversationalist he is. I sense it takes a while to befriend Jud. Still waters run deep, as they say. But I’d get him to talk about some of his close scrapes with ghosts (and try to avoid talking about his family). 

3. Which writer, dead or alive, you would like to collaborate with?

Arthur Conan Doyle, no question. He’s the real deal. No one writes with such attention to detail or subtlety or command of language. He was a great man. The Hound of the Baskervilles remains my favourite book. Once I rented a cottage on the fringe of Dartmoor and read the book there. Reading a story in the exact place in which it’s set can be thrilling – you can almost sense the author is there with you.

Mind you, a collaboration with Bill Shakespeare would have been good wouldn’t it.

4. What’s the best thing about writing?

Giving vent to your imagination. Having an outlet for the weird and wonderful thoughts that enter your head can be rewarding. But beware, once you allow your brain to spin those ideas into stories, you cannot easily turn the storytelling button off. I now find myself spinning most thoughts into stories – even the most mundane ones – and that can play havoc with your sense of reality and your memory. Did I go to the supermarket yesterday, or did I build a supermarket of sand, line it with deck-chair trolleys and watch the tide wash it away until all that was left was a lonely ‘Buy one get one free’ poster floating on the water. I can’t remember…

5. What’s your top tip for budding young writers?

Have an idea. Don’t get too obsessed with trying to create great, literary prose from the outset. That will come in time. It’s not so much about forcing a story with a worthy narration, but more about revealing or ‘showing’ ideas to the reader. It’s ideas that count. Look at Harry Potter: Rowling’s books are filled with the most exciting and unique ideas, like Diagon Alley or Quidditch or Gringotts or moving staircases and talking pictures. Remember: the best idea for a novel begins with novel ideas.

Catch up Andrew Hammond at the festival on Saturday 2nd June, 10:30 am

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Hay & a certain Henry… by H.M. Castor

This year will be my first-ever visit to Hay, and I just can’t wait. Every year I have read about the festival, seen pictures of it in the newspaper, and wished I was there… A field full of book events, next to a town full of bookshops – surely this is my idea of heaven? Add regular supplies of cake and I certainly can’t imagine anything nicer…

For I am, it has to be said, a book addict. My chaotic house is testament to the fact that I would always rather be reading than tidying, washing up or giving a wall a new lick of paint – and the state of me is testament to the fact that if my hand’s hovering between a book and an ironing board, it’s really only going to go one way (and you can guess which of those things misses out). My youngest child is currently involved in a school project where the aim is to ‘catch people reading’ and bring the photos in to class (the challenge might rather be to catch me not reading…). I was particularly delighted when we spotted a picture of Henry VIII with an open book in his hand in the British Library collection.

Why was I so delighted? Well, Henry’s a bit of an obsession of mine. I’ve written a novel about him, called VIII, and that’s what I’m coming to Hay this year to talk about. My image of Henry, though, is a bit different from the one in that manuscript illustration. You see, I’m especially interested in Henry when he was young: he was a fearsome warrior, a terrifically talented martial artist… he was tall, handsome, courageous, intelligent and reputedly unusually virtuous too. In short, he had it all. And when he came to the throne at just seventeen, he was so much the image of a storybook hero that people at the time hailed his accession as the beginning of a golden age.

So, what went wrong? What happened to turn this hero into the paranoid, wife-beheading monster of his last years? It’s often said, ‘Henry needed a son’ or ‘he was tired of his first wife’… but turning into an English Bluebeard is a pretty extreme reaction to those problems – problems that were, after all, faced by other kings of the time, without the same result. Just what was going on in Henry’s head as he made that journey into darkness? That’s the question at the heart of VIII, and at the heart of my fascination with Henry. For me, Henry’s story is a gripping and twisted psychological tale, and it has – surprising as it sounds – much in common with the story of how Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars films turns to the ‘dark side’ and becomes Darth Vader. Ambition, insecurity and a driving sense of destiny play their part. So does the warping effect of power on even the most idealistic nature.

I’ll be talking at Hay along with the author William Osborne, and it’ll be intriguing to compare Henry’s journey with some of the themes of his World War II novel Hitler’s Angel. Very different time periods – but we’ve both written historical novels with a twist of psychological thriller. So can we find common ground? Come and talk power, paranoia, secrets and courage with us on Thursday June 7 at 1pm!

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Dear Reader,

Hello! My name is Pea. Really all you literary festival people will be much more interested in my Mum, who is Marina Cove, famous author of the Mermaid Girls books. (You know them, the ones with the sparkly covers.)

Unfortunately being a very famous and successful author means she’s at home doing authorial things, like drinking tea and watching Homes Under The Hammer – but please come along on Friday 8th June 1pm at the Starlight Stage, to meet me instead.

I hope we’re going to be best friends. I had to leave my last one behind in Tenby when my whole family (that’s Mum, and my sisters Clover and Tinkerbell, and Wuffly the dog) moved to London. My Londonish best friend candidates are all quite strange. There’s Sam, who lives next door, and might be a boy or a girl but no one seems to know. And Eloise, who has frondy posh packed lunches. And Bethany, who smells of Wotsits and would like me more if I were a horse. Personally I’d prefer to be best friends with Anne Boleyn, but she is a bit dead.

(Apparently some lady called Susie Day will be there too, talking lots and signing books at the end of it, so I expect she’s a writer like Mum.)

Meet you soon!

Love from Pea xx

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Our merry band of young writers, The Scribblers, posed some particularly brilliant questions to some of the artists appearing at Hay this year.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you their answers.  First up: JEREMY STRONG

Describe your latest book (pictured!) in 5 words.


If you had to pick one of your characters to spend the day with, which one would you choose?

MR BUTTERNUT, the teacher in the Cartoon Kid stories. As an ex-teacher myself I would like to discuss the problems thrown up by his strange class and swap funny stories about his children and some of the children I used to teach myself.

Which writer, dead or alive, you would like to collaborate with?

Ooh, ah, difficult one. Ted Hughes, who is, sadly, dead. He wrote that brilliant story, THE IRON MAN. I loved the way he used language in that – it was almost like reading poetry at times. I know I would learn a lot about writing if I was able to work with him.

What’s the best thing about writing?

GETTING PAID FOR IT! Ha ha! Well, it helps, doesn’t it? In truth I think the best moments are when you realise that you have got a really good idea and you’re sure it’s going to make a great book. But when you first start writing I guess the best moment is when you get your first book published. I have now written ninety three books, but I can still remember the my sheer joy when I got my very first book published more than thirty years ago.

What’s your top tip for budding young writers?

READ YOUR STORY OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF, WITH LOTS OF EXPRESSION. It’s a great way to discover where the bad and boring bits are, and where there are things that don’t make sense. Plus, you always find bits you want to change to make them better.

Thank you Jeremy!

Catch Jeremy Strong at the festival on Tuesday 5 June, 2.30pm.


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Hello Festivaliers!

Our half-term, hand-picked line-up of live events, workshops and expeditions is now online!

But it doesn’t stop there.  In fact, this is just the start.  This is year is particularly special as the festival is celebrating its 25th birthday, and of course it’s the Jubilee too, so we’re incredibly excited about the amazing party atmosphere.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you a whole host of goodies from interviews and guest posts to exclusive activities and artwork.

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