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Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall

Carmel Shortall lives in London but grew up in Northern Ireland. She is currently doing the Certificate of Higher Education in Creative Writing at Birkbeck having previously studied Journalism there and she has a degree in Humanities from Middlesex University. Carmel is writing her first novel and hopes to progress to the MA Creative Writing when she has finished it. Once a year in August she goes crazy and tries to see and review 28 shows in 28 days during the Camden Fringe Festival.

Stoke Newington Literary Festival: 6-8 June

The Stoke Newington Literary Festival is now established as one of the most eclectic and popular programmes in the literary festival calendar and it returns for a 5th year over the weekend of 6-8 June.


Firmly rooted in the vibrant community of Stoke Newington (only a 476 bus journey away from Euston or Kings Cross!), and drawing on the wellspring of its talented local authors, the festival borrows from the area’s radical past as well as looking further afield for inspiration about subjects as diverse as maths, beer, feminism and the food we eat as well as some of the most exciting fiction emerging this year in interesting and quirky venues dotted around the compact and lively centre of ‘Stokey’.


There are numerous events on writing whether your interest is in Writing for Kids and Teens (Sat 7th, 11am); Writing History (Sat 7th, 1pm) or perhaps you need A Writer’s Workout as presented by Ambit Magazine (Sat 7th, 11am) followed by their session on How on Earth Do I Get Published? (Sat, 1pm).


On Sunday at 11am children’s author, Ciaran Murtagh, of CBBC runs a story-writing workshop called Never Be Stuck For an Idea Again for ages seven and above. For the little ones, Mog, Judith Kerr’s forgetful cat will be turning up in person at Stoke Newington Library at 1pm and 2.30 on Saturday as well as 2.30 and 3.30pm on Sunday.


Pop along to a Late Night Literary Salon (Fri 6th, 8pm) for a night of story-telling, drinking and music hosted by three of the best up and coming indie publishers in the UK – Influx Press, 3:AM and Galley Beggar Press with special guests. Then, on Sunday at 5pm, Philip Jones, Editor of The Bookseller invites four leading commentators to discuss The Future of the Book.

Alex Clark’s Rising Stars (Sun, 2.30pm) introduces debut authors Harriet Lane (Alys, Always; Her), Anna Whitwham (Boxer Handsome), Tim Glencross (Barbarians) and Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist) plus both A L Kennedy (Sun, 6pm) and Charlotte Mendelson (Sun 12.30pm) will be appearing at the festival.


Genre fiction is well served as MJ McGrath hosts a panel of female crime writers: Kate Rhodes, Lucy Atkins and Charlotte Williams in Killer Girls (Fri, 7pm); The Science of Star Wars is explained on Saturday at 1pm and, on Sunday, at 1pm, a dream team of Ben Aaronovitch, Stephen Hunt, Mitch Benn and Jon Wallace discuss (clears throat!) Human and Interspecies Relationships in Science-Fiction and Fantasy.

Perhaps you’re interested in writing about video games? Reads Like a Seven is curated and presented by games designer and former Edge editor, Ste Curran, at 8pm on Friday 6th.


Other highlights of the festival will include Linton Kwesi Johnson performing his iconic dub poetry (Sat, 6.30pm); Guardian Journalist, Suzanne Moore will be interviewing legendary interviewer, Lynn Barber (Sun, 4pm); Jonathan Meades will be talking about architecture, culture, food and himself to Neil Denny of cult podcast, Little Atoms (Sun, 2pm) and Stewart Lee will be in conversation with Andy Miller about his book – The Year of Reading Dangerously in which Andy finally gets round to reading all those books he’s lied about reading for years.


Laura Bates of Everyday Sexism, Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett of Vaganda talk to Safraz Manzoor about Feminism 4.0: Why Are We Still Fighting
? (11am on Saturday); Lucy Inglis explores Georgian London (Sat, 3pm) and Seumas Milne (The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners) discusses the legacy of the Miners’ Strike in its 30th anniversary year with Owen Jones (Chavs) on Saturday at 1pm.


Music always plays a big part in the Stoke Newington Literary Festival and this year is no exception. Music journalists, rock film-makers, musicians, punks, post-punks and 60s icons all have something to say and this year’s festival features some of the best music memoirs around.


Music writer, DJ and broadcaster, Mark Ellen discusses his eagerly anticipated book Rock Stars Stole My Life with Mark Billingham (Sun, 4pm) while Viv Albertine of The
chats to ex-Sonic Youth guitarist and singer, Thurston Moore about her autobiography Clothes Clothes Clothes. Music Music Music. Boys Boys Boys (Sun, 4pm). And the festival closes with legendary Kinks frontman, Ray Davies and rock film-maker, Julien Temple (The Filth and the Fury, Ray Davies: Imaginary Man) in conversation. Julien discusses his work then interviews Ray about his life, music, and new book Americana: The Kinks, the Road and the Perfect Riff (Sun, 8pm).


Award-winning local beer writer (and festival co-organiser), Pete Brown, updates his
popular Beer & Music Matching in which you can now discover the neuroscience behind why Duvel is the only beer to drink when you’re listening to The PixiesDebaser. Or, if cider is your tipple, Pete will be discussing the resurgence of this most misunderstood of drinks in The Craft Cider Revolution on Saturday at 4pm.


Food, as well as drink, will be represented and Claudia Roden will be discussing her latest cookery book, The Food of Italy with TV chef, Valentine Warner on Sunday at 3pm.


There will be live music at the Budvar Tent outside the Town Hall plus special guests, Phill Jupitus and Tim Wells, who will be spinning the decks and ‘dad dancing’.


The festival will open with Mark Kermode talking about his new book, Hatchet Job: Hate Critics, Love movies before comedian, Josie Long, introduces and showcases the work of Arts Emergency, a Hackney-based charity working across the UK to mentor, encourage and support working class and low-income kids into arts degrees. Founder, Josie, will be around during the festival weekend signing people up to this ‘Alternative’ Old Boys Network.


Festival founder Liz Vater says: “We set the festival up to help fund literacy initiatives within Hackney. Last year we ran storytelling workshops with the Turkish & Kurdish community and funded places for Stoke Newington kids to attend a residential creative writing course at Arvon. This year we hope to extend our reach and provide even more support to help adults and kids engage with and improve access to literacy.”


All this and so much more! Have a look at the website where you can find full details of all the events and book tickets unless it is a free event. Tickets are also available at the Stoke Newington Bookshop, 159 Stoke Newington High Street or at the Stoke Newington Library from 2nd June.


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