Ali Bacon Reminisces about the First HULF

Ali Bacon with two authors

Ali Bacon, calmly controlling the packed programme of readings atht every first HULF in 2015 . To her far left is John Holland, organiser of Stroud Short Stories and also of HULF’s short stories programme.

As we gear up for HULF 2020 this April, Ali Bacon, prize-winning Scottish author of novels and short-stories and a regular fixture in the HULF speakers’ list, shares her delight in watching the event develop since its inception back in 2015.

Times past and times to come, or, Ask not what HULF can do for you…!

I’m one of those lucky people who through a variety of circumstances (bumping into Debbie Young at the right time and not having much in my diary!) became involved in HULF at the very beginning.

What an impact that first evening made and what a joy it has been to see it grow and develop from year to year.

Remembering the First Ever HULF

On that very first day I remember sitting outside the back door of the pub issuing directions.

It’s great to think how many of the acquaintances I made on that day have been have been renewed from year to year and how some have become real friends in the real or virtual world.

What was my role that night?

I remember moving a few seats (which Debbie moved back because she knows best!) and being part of a reading in a tent. The most challenging part was helping chair a short story session where there was very stiff competition from the non-literary revellers in the bar!

From One Night in the Pub to a Whole-Day Event

From there we quickly progressed to a whole day event, with panel discussions as well as readings, still based in the pub, but with a slightly calmer ambience during daylight hours!

A children’s book tent was added and the ‘young people’ strand has grown alongside poetry workshops and advice on publishing.

Subsequently HULF expanded into extra spaces – Methodist Chapel, Bethesda Chapel, the primary school and the village hall.  Last year we had a ‘proper’ book shop as well as the luxury of the village hall for auditorium-style presentations.

Wow. And all of this is free!

Yes, it’s free in terms of ticketing, but it’s not exactly something for nothing. There is simply no charge for the vast amount of work undertaken by Debbie. And of course we writers (some of whom come considerable distances) understand our services are provided on the same basis –we bring something to the show in exchange for the chance to meet people, network and sell a few books.

Since 2018 this has also been put on a more formal footing (and quite right too). It’s not enough to wait for an email from Debbie, we must apply to be there and ‘set out our stall’.

What can I bring? It’s a very good question – I’ve read short stories and from novels, I’ve discussed being a writer with many different hats – contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and as a writer inspired by art. So ‘what next’ for HULF is also what next for me…

We’re pleased to announce that Ali Bacon will be taking part in the HULF2020 event “Around the World in 8ish Books”, chaired by Caroline Sanderson at 4pm, in which she’ll be putting Scotland on the map with a reading from her masterful novel, In the Blink of an Eye, about early photography pioneers in Edinburgh.

image of Ali Bacon headshot with the cover of In the Blink of an EyeAli Bacon writes novels and short stories and is lucky enough to live in South Gloucestershire just down the road from Hawkesbury Upton. She has been at every festival so far and manned the Festival tent at Hawkesbury Show a few times too. Find out more at alibacon.com or on Twitter @AliBacon

Literary Scarecrow Trail in Festival Village

picture of scarecrow trail flyer - front side

Thanks to the organisers for kindly adding a “save the date” note about HULF 2020!

Thanks to Hawkesbury Upton Scarecrow Trail, you don’t need to wait until the next Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival 2020  for a bit of bookish fun in the village!

When to Walk the Trail

Just come along any time between now and Sunday 3rd November to enjoy a lovely walk spotting 31 scarecrow displays throughout the village, all with “Literature” as their inspiration.

Tea and Cake!

On the final day of the trail, there’ll also be tea and cake in the Village Hall from 10.30am-12noon. (Not much happens in Hawkesbury Upton that doesn’t include tea and cake!)

A Wet and Windy Start

After the trail was officially launched yesterday at the community library in the Village Hall, the scarecrows faced a wet and windy night, but have survived more or less intact. Although Gangsta Granny‘s wig blew away, she has now been reunited with it!

photo of Alice in Wonderland scarecrow

No surprises about HULF Director Debbie Young’s contribution to the trail – a larger-than-life Alice in Wonderland!

The Trail Map

And here’s the flip side of the flyer, showing you the trail to follow. You can pick up a less crumpled version when you visit – or just stroll round the village and let the scarecrows take you by surprise!

map of trail

The map of the trail appears on the flipside of the flyer

For More Information

For more information – and a growing collection of photos – check out the Trail’s Facebook Event page here.

With thanks to Hawkesbury Preschool for organising the event and for promoting HULF 2020 on the map),  to Louise Roberts for founding the tradition a few years ago, and to all the villagers who have worked so hard to put on a good show – just what we need to brighten up the dark autumn days! 

HULF’s Children’s Events Director Founds Storytale – a New Festival for Young Readers in Bristol

We’re thrilled to share the news of a new litfest being launched this autumn in Bristol by Kate Frost, Director of HULF’s Children’s & Teen Events. Here’s Kate to tell you all about it…

banner ad for Storytale Festival

When Debbie Young appointed me the Director of Children’s and Teen Events for the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival at the start of 2019, little did I know that by the end of the year I’d also be the Co-founder of the Storytale Festival, a new city-wide children’s book festival for Bristol.

As well as writing fiction for adults, I have a time travel adventure trilogy for 9-12 year olds published called Time Shifters.

arragy of book covers

Kate Frost writes for both adults and young adults

I’m passionate about giving children the opportunity to read, write and be creative, and being involved in the Storytale Festival, I hope, is the perfect way to achieve that.

Off to a Flying Start

I had intended to do one creative writing workshop for children as part of the 2019 Bristol Festival of Literature, but when they put me in touch with Ellie Freeman, a Bristol community activist, mum and passionate book lover who’d been thinking about starting a book festival for children, things began to go in a different direction.

We had talked about starting small, with twelve events over the October half-term week, but the festival took on a life of its own with authors and illustrators coming to us and asking to be a part of the inaugural festival. In the end we had turn people down with the suggestion they contact us about next year’s festival – and that’s before we even knew if the first festival would be a success! (Ask me on the 4th November!)

Vital Statistics

Storytale Festival will run from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November 2019 in venues throughout Bristol. Rather than having twelve events scheduled, we now have more than 40, including prequel events running up to the main festival.

Generous Support

We have no funding, our Arts Council England application was turned down, and so we’ve relied on the huge amount of generous support from people, venues and companies to make the festival a reality.

Events List

Storytale’s flagship event, Wild Writing with Anna Wilson, Chris Vick and Mimi Thebo will open the main festival on Saturday 26th October with a wildly fun session featuring huge cardboard animals!

More wild and wonderful creatures can be discovered during BBC producer Justin Anderson’s Secrets of Snow Leopards event at Stanfords, while children will love being immersed in stories and creating their own characters with illustrators Paula Bowles and Nicola Colton during their events, Superkitty at the Elephant House, and Smart Kitties and Mucky Pups at Storysmith.

Festival highlights will include a Writing for Children panel at The Watershed, co-hosted by the Bristol Festival of Literature, along with a spookily good alternative to trick or treating on Halloween, a battle between Thriller vs. Horror at Foyles with YA authors Tracy Darnton and Gabriel Dylan.

Children can get creative and write their own stories in three very different creative writing workshops based on climate change, fantastic ideas, and time travel, led by authors Damaris Young, Emma Read, and of course myself!

Arnos Vale will be the wonderfully atmospheric woodland setting for storytelling for youngsters in the events, Winter Sleep and “Uh-Oh” Said Flo.

Immersing children in the joy of storytelling will continue with popular YouTuber Jenny the Story Lady at The Southville Centre, and with Pridie Tiernan from The Wild of the Words at Windmill Hill City Farm.

We have storytellers, illustrators and authors giving their time for free to engage with and inspire children of all ages, and we hope that October half-term in Bristol will be filled with exciting, affordable (lots are free) and memorable events that will capture children’s and adult’s imagination.

And once it’s over, we’ll turn our attention to next year and how we can build on the huge learning curve we’ve had this year, starting a city-wide festival from scratch. Oh, and I’d better start thinking about HULF 2020 as well!

For full details of Storytale Festival 2019, visit its website: www.storytalefestival.com.

You can also follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @StorytaleFest.

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HULF Author Trevor Stubbs Sets Up YA Events at Bristol Lit Fest 2019

headshot of Trevor Stubbs

Trevor Stubbs writes Young Adult novels

We are delighted to share news of one of our HULF regulars starting up an exciting new project in nearby Bristol targeting young adults. Trevor Stubbs writes:

The Bristol Festival of Literature is coming up next month (17th-27th October 2019). Last spring, I was challenged by a fellow author to make a pitch for an event for young adults as part of the Lit Fest and, as a writer of young adult fiction, I saw the need for such an event immediately.

It would not be about promoting my own work but encouraging teenagers in Bristol to be part of the city’s culture and impact – both regionally and internationally.

Four New Events for Young Adults

The pitch was taken up by Bristol libraries, and we now have not one but four events on the card:

  •  Fishponds (Wednesday 23rd),
  • Bishopston (Thursday 24th)
  • Horfield (Saturday 26th)
  • on Monday  21st there will be a similar event for schools at Junction 3 library in Easton

The first three events are free of charge and open to all. We have a team of six authors, including myself, who will be answering the questions of young people about reading and writing:

  • Adrianne Fitzpatrick
  • Kate Frost
  • Wendy H Jones
  • Stella Wilkinson
  • Willow Woods

All of the authors are coming at their own expense and will receive no fee. Of course, they will bring their books to sell, but all they really want to do is be sources of inspiration for the young people.

Young People of Influence

Young people are becoming ever bolder in addressing the burning issues of our times straight on.

  • Greta Thunberg, aged 16, has taken on the leaders of the world without fear and restraint in leading the fight against climate change. “How dare you!” she says to all – both the advocates of fossil fuels and the rest of us for sitting around and not getting on with what needs to be done.
  • Mulala Yousafzai is campaigning for girl’s education – a message she directs not just at her native Pakistan but to all of us.

Trevor’s Perspective

A few years ago, I was criticised by a young woman for being too male, middle-class and white. At the time I didn’t know what I could do about any of that, but thinking about it since, I think I know what she meant. I was too establishment, too ponderous, too content with the world as it was. We can’t help being some of the things that go with being comparatively rich, well-feed and looked up to – as a retired vicar, I know what that means – but we can make sure we are not content with a world that is falling apart.

The science of global warming, the horrific statistics on world poverty and the impact of violence (to call it ‘war’ is to be too polite) on people and our environment is tearing our planet and human society apart; it is not sustainable.

Our young people want to be heard. We need to give them a voice and this is where encouraging them to read critically and write effectively comes in.

The aim of the Young Adults events in four of our Bristol libraries is to help our teenagers to discover their voices, their talents for writing and other forms of self-expression so that they can make their own contributions to the debate that will change our world for the better. The times are critical; it will be the younger generations that will suffer the full implications of the things we do, or fail to do, now.

Let our young people learn, let them speak, let them write and let us all listen.


HULF 2020 – One More Destination for Digital Nomad Jay Artale

Jay Artale Headshot for debbie

Jay Artale, travel writer, non-fiction author & digital nomad

Travel writer and non-fiction author Jay Artale played an important part in HULF 2019, sharing our news via the HULF Twitter account, from different countries around the world. You see, Jay’s a digital nomad, travelling the world while working online. We’re delighted to announce that for next year’s event, she’ll be in Hawkesbury Upton in person. Meanwhile, she shares her thoughts on what it means to be a digital nomad and why she’s glad to be adding Hawkesbury Upton to her itinerary in 2020.

Location Independent Digital Nomad

If being a digital nomad was a cult, then Arthur C. Clarke would be our guru.

When I was two years old, he predicted developments in communication would create a world independent of distance where we could conduct our business from anywhere in the world—and that’s what I do.

As long as I have a computer and internet connection it doesn’t matter where I write my travel guides or books about travel writing and self-publishing. My location is immaterial.

Since abandoning my corporate career to become location independent I’ve wallowed in the digital advances Arthur C. Clarke predicted, but sometimes it means I miss out on coveted opportunities.

The 2019 #HULitFest

In the past, I’ve scanned literary and book festivals with no more than a passing interest, but the 2019 Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival line-up changed that.

  • The Voicing Dementia talk, non-fiction reading, and travel-related panel discussion piqued my interest.
  • The adult workshops for how to write for magazines, free writing, and writing poetry, grabbed my attention.
  • The poetry slam sealed the deal—I had to attend.

Since writing my poetic memoir, A Turbulent Mind about my mother’s journey with Alzheimers, slamming those Hillaire Belloc inspired poems has been on my bucket list. Here was my opportunity to fill that quest—but my travel schedule had other plans.

3d image of Jay Artale's poetry book about Alzheimers's, A Turbulent Mind

In this moving and beautifully designed poetry collection, Jay shares her experience of her mother’s Alzheimer’s

Tweeting Support

Although I couldn’t participate in person, physical distance wasn’t going to stop me from being part of this community of words. So in lieu of attendance, I offered Debbie remote support to spread the word about the 2019 lineup and event via Twitter.

Ostensibly I was getting the word out to encourage book lovers to travel locally to Hawkesbury Upton for this one-day event. But our tweets also showcased the speakers to a global audience and helped them grow their reader-base.

Using words to move people into action or reaction is a compulsion of mine.

Finding a Niche

I use my Bodrum Peninsula website and travel guides to encourage visitors to get off the beaten path and discover a country that doesn’t deserve the negative press it receives. I use my indie publishing website, podcast and travel writing books to inspire travelers to write and self publish, and my personal blog to share my travel adventures.

image of Jay Artale's travel books

It’s an erratic collection of content meant to serve different roles to different audiences, and I think that’s why I was drawn to HULitFest.

When what we write doesn’t neatly fit into the confines of a single niche, we have to create a platform to deliver it. I’ve done that virtually through my websites, and it’s what Debbie does with her annual Literary Festival.

The 2020 #HULitFest

I’m looking forward to attending the 2020 Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival in person. Fingers crossed my application to host a travel writing workshop is accepted. [It will be! What a great addition to the HULF workshop programme! – Ed.] I’m also limbering up my poetry slam muscles to bare my soul.

The world has shrunk to that point Arthur C. Clarke predicted. It’s called the internet.

It’s where we communicate and reach people no matter their location. But this online world has exploded to such an extent, it’s become an information suburb where virtual connections can make us feel disconnected.

It’s just as well physical destinations still have a place in our world, and each year authors and book lovers commute to Hawkesbury Upton to share their love and appreciation of the written word to communicate with their fellow human beings, face-to-face.

 


About Jay Artale

Jay Artale Headshot for debbieJay Artale abandoned her corporate career to become a digital nomad and full-time writer. She’s an avid blogger and a nonfiction author helping travel writers and travel bloggers achieve their self-publishing goals. Join her at Birds of a Feather Press where she shares tips, advice, and inspiration to writers with an independent spirit.

Connect with Jay on social media here:

So Fed Up to Miss HULF 2020!

headshot of David Ebsworth

Historical novelist David Ebsworth was a popular speaker at HULF 2019

Historical novelist David Ebsworth writes…

You know the problem with “local” festivals like HULF? We’re all so busy trying to avoid clashing with the big commercial events, bank holidays and other stuff that we end up clashing with each other. And that’s a real shame since it tends to be events like HULF that do the most to promote reading, writing and great storytelling, or to support much-needed library services, across communities that perhaps can’t always access the bigger shows like Hay or the Oxford LitFest.

All the Way from Wrexham

As it happened, things worked out fine for me this year since, though I’m involved in organising our week-long Wrexham Carnival of Words up in North Wales, I had a relatively free day on Saturday 27th April and our old friend Debbie Young had invited me to do a session in the Village Hall about the background to my two Spanish Civil War novels, The Assassin’s Mark and Until The Curtain Falls.

David Ebsworth’s novels set around the Spanish Civil War provide fascinating insights into the era

It’s a fair trip from Wrexham to Hawkesbury Upton – and not made any easier by the tree fallen across the road on the last leg before we reached the village – but it was well worth the journey. Great presentations, among many others, from Dr Gerri Kimber about Katherine Mansfield, and from Brad Borkan on the inspiration of Antarctic exploration. Yet equally worthwhile for the chance to catch up and chat with other friends, colleagues and fellow-writers like David Penny, Bobbie Coelho and the inimitable Lucienne Boyce.

And, anyway, Debbie was due to return the favour by appearing on the following Thursday at Wrexham Library to talk about the joys of writing “cosy mysteries” and the role of humour in crime-writing, through her Sophie Sayers village mysteries. Superb!

Debbie Young returned the favour by speaking Wrexham Carnival of Words the following week

Diary Dilemma

So it was an honour to receive the invitation for a return appearance at HULF on 25th April 2020 but, sadly, that’s the same date on which I’m running a non-fiction History Day at home in Wrexham. I’ll be really fed up not to be in Hawkesbury Upton but I know that HULF will be even bigger and better than in each of its successful years so far.

Good luck, therefore, to Debbie and her team of volunteers and long may the local litfests flourish!

David Ebsworth’s latest novel is now available to order in print and ebook from all good stockists

For more information about David, his books and his busy schedule of events, please visit his website: www.davidebsworth.com.

HULF Author Barry Faulkner in “The Times” Diary

Barry Faulkner’s cutting from The Times newspaper, Tuesday 6th August 2019

HULF author Barry Faulkner made the national press earlier this month – and he didn’t even know about it until another Festival regular, David Penny, pointed it out to him.

The reason? It was an anonymous entry in The Times’ diary section, sharing one of the many anecdotes that feature in Barry’s talks. Barry is a popular guest speaker for WIs and other social groups, and he presumes that, unknown to him, one of the diary’s columnists or informants must have been in the audience at one of his talks.

Barry’s popular DCIS Palmer police procedurals are inspired by his own background – not as a policeman, but as a member of a London family actively involved in petty crime. To make it easier to read than the photo, here’s a transcript of the topical anecdote shared in The Times:

LAG TAKES A DIG AT POLICE

As the ground grows ever harder, a gardening tip comes from the criminal underworld. The writer Barry Faulkner’s family were petty criminals and, after a local theft, his father knew CID were watching. For five nights he took a shoebox to his ill-kept allotment, stayed for half and hour, then departed. On the sixth night the fuzz swoopd in, dug the place up and found nothing. On the seventh day Faulkner’s father went back, finally able to plant his potatoes.

Barry, pictured on the far left below speaking on a panel at this year’s CrimeFest, the leading international crimewriting convention, will be sharing more insights and anecdotes like this at HULF 2020, when he will be giving a talk about celebrated London criminals and his family’s own involvement.

 

In case you’re wondering, Barry’s own past is blameless. Instead of following in the family tradition, he went into advertising, before breaking into writing and editing comedy scripts for major television series. No wonder his novels are so entertaining!

In the meantime, if you’d like to read more about the “Diamond Geezers” featured in Barry’s talks, visit his blog here: www.geezers2016.wordpress.com/.

And if you’d like to read his novels, you’ll find them on Amazon, available in paperback and ebook. All of his books are also available via Kindle Unlimited, so if you’re a subscriber, you can download all his books as part of your monthly subscription plan.