There’s a treat in store for literary-minded North Londoners this Autumn – a new literary festival in Wood Green, organised by the Big Green Bookshop and sponsored by Haringey Council.
WGLF will take place mainly over the weekend of 11th -13th October (although it starts on the 9th) and, while it may be the new kid on the block, it has an ambitious and impressive programme of events lined up featuring more than 100 authors in venues dotted around Wood Green over the course of the festival.
Several events will appeal to writers as opposed to readers and there will be opportunities to meet independent publishers as well as literary agents, and to attend writing workshops with established authors.
Ajda Vucicevic and Amanda Preston of The LBA Literary Agency will host a Speed-Pitching event (Sunday 13th at 2.30 pm, Wood Green Library, £5) where, after a general session, you will be able to pitch your novel for two minutes and receive a few minutes feedback. The event will begin with a workshop from one of the agents giving guidance on presentation, what works, what doesn't and where you might also be able to take an idea. There will also be a chance to ask questions about the role of an agent and the industry in general.
The WGLF website and blog advises that you will need: an extract from your piece, roughly 200-300 words on paper, an outline of the book – again 200-300 words on paper, copies of your contact details on paper or on a business card and they especially advise that “getting this to run smoothly will require you to be polite if you are rejected and to leave the table when the bell rings.” Booking is likely to be essential.
Another event: Publishing Today. Options, Opportunities and Obstacles will provide the opportunity to meet representatives of independent publishers including Angry Robot, Gallic Books, &other stories, Galley Beggar Press and Guerilla Books at the Big Green Bookshop at 7pm Saturday 12th October. The publishers will be happy to advise on the huge changes that are occurring in the book trade at the moment, whether to do with self publishing, the best way to find a publisher, what the role of publisher and author is today, how best to get one’s work noticed by a publisher, what the stages of getting published are and anything else you can think to ask... The publishers will also be showcasing their books and authors at various events throughout the festival.
There will also be a wonderful opportunity to learn from top children’s authors and take part in a workshop entitled, "How to Write Kids Fiction" with Joe Craig and Anthony McGowan taking place at the bookshop at 10am on Sunday 13th.
Later on the Sunday (3.45pm), at Noel Park Primary School – where most of the children’s events will take place – authors Keren David and Hilary Freeman will discuss ‘edgy’ Young Adult fiction and increasing censorship as well as answering questions from young adults and writers in the audience.
Journalist, lecturer and author of The Noughtie Girls Guide to Feminism, Ellie Levinson, will run a two-hour writing workshop on How to Write About Yourself in Non-Fiction in the Library Gallery on Sunday at 12.30.
A short story competition will be launched at the festival and, although full details are not yet available, judges will include 2012 Booker shortlisted author Alison Moore, publisher Scott Pack, festival organiser Simon Key and another – yet to be confirmed.
Readers have plenty to look forward to as well. The theme of the festival is 'London: A Celebration of the Capital’ and many – but by no means all – of the events centre on London.
The Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life will be presenting a Magic Lantern Show of ‘extraordinary’ pictures of London with a special emphasis on the East End at 5pm in Wood Green Library, Saturday 12th.
Lucy Inglis, blogger and author of Georgian London: Into the Streets will be looking at Georgian London’s Criminal Underbelly at 1.30 on Saturday 12th at the Library.
Crap Towns editor Sam Jordison will pick through a collection of the worst that Crap London has to offer at 5pm on Saturday October 12th in St Mark's Church Hall.
Sam Jordison is also the main person behind the Guardian’s ‘Not the Booker’ prize and at 7pm, after Crap London, he will be chairing a panel of the authors nominated for this tongue-in-cheek alternative to the Booker itself – just days before the winner is announced. All six authors are being invited by the Guardian to attend a panel reading and discussion and, although they cannot guarantee all the authors will make it – Neil Gaiman, for instance, is appearing at the Cheltenham Literary Festival and unlikely to be able to do so – signed copies of ALL of the shortlisted books will be available to purchase on the night.
Crime fiction is well represented. London's History through Crime Fiction is explored by a stellar panel consisting of Christopher Fowler, DE Meredith, Lloyd Shepherd and RN Norris at 3pm on Sunday in St Mark’s Church Hall. And if you fancy something more up to date, Mark Billingham, Matt Baylis, Louise Millar and Alison Joseph will discuss Contemporary London Crime fiction at the same venue a few hours later at 7pm. Martina Cole – who was to appear at the festival on October 11th will now be doing so on October 29th due to the publication date of her new novel, Revenge, being moved forward.
Zoe Margolis and Suzanne Moore ask each other Is Sisterhood Sexy? on Sunday 13th, 5pm at St Mark’s and at the same time, in the bookshop, Linda Grant and Charlotte Mendelson will be in conversation with Alex Clark.
One of the highlights of the festival will take place on Thursday 10th October, a day earlier than its offficial start, Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom will be singing songs with her husband, Malcolm, while illustrator, Lydia Monks, draws pictures for the children.
Children’s authors are particularly well represented and a veritable stream of them will appear at Noel Park School behind Wood Green High Road over the Saturday and Sunday of the festival between 1 and 6pm.
Tim West of the Big Green Bookshop will kick things off at 1pm on Saturday with his popular Stories and Songs, a regular event at the bookshop, before Guy Bass, author of Dinkin Dings and the Frightening Things and Stitch-Head brings his justly famous live performance to the festival. Perhaps the title of his show: Guy Bass, Live and Untamed will give you a taste of what to expect.
Other children’s authors will include Marianne Levy (Ellie May series) at 2.45 on Sunday and Sally Nicholls (All Fall Down and Close Your Pretty Eyes) at 4pm on Saturday. I had the privilege of accompanying both to school events last World Book Week and I can vouch for their respective abilities to totally transfix a hall full of either young children or teenagers.
Kids who are into demons, goblins, werewolves, zombies and other monsters will want to head off to Noel Park at 5pm on the Saturday to see authors, Sam Enthoven, Steve Feasey and Conrad Mason – amazingly they are all appearing together – in Monsters, Magic and Mayhem.
There are loads more events and tickets cost mainly between £3 and £5 while most of the children’s events are free. Tickets can be booked through the Big Green Bookshop’s website or the literary festival’s own site and full details, plus times, venues and updated information, are available from the Wood Green Literary Festival website and blog.
So take a trip up the Piccadilly line – it’s only seven stops to Turnpike Lane or eight to Wood Green – from Russell Square and visit the Wood Green Literary Festival. Let’s hope it’s the first of many.