THE BIG BOOK WEEKEND PROGRAMME

Scroll down for the full programme, jump to a day using the buttons below, or download our print-friendly PDF. Then go watch any session, still up on MyVLF.com !

Friday 8th May

10:00 a.m.

Maggie O’Farrell and Damian Barr

IN CONVERSATION

The Big Book Weekend kicks off with award-winning British-Irish author Maggie O’Farrell discussing the joy and importance of book festivals. With journalist and debut novelist Damian Barr.

Brought to you by Big Book Weekend

BOOKS

60 minutes

11:00 a.m.

Alexander McCall Smith

PERFORMANCE 

Master story-teller Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, will provide a gentle escape into a world of hope and humour. He will read a special message to readers and festival organisers written for the Big Book Weekend, perform two poems to inspire and uplift, and read from his latest book in the Detective Ulf Varg series, The Talented Mr. Varg.

Brought to you by Shoreham Wordfest 

Fiction

20 minutes

12:00 p.m.

Sue Stuart-Smith with Marian Boswall

INTERVIEW 

In a world where the average child spends less time outside each week than a maximum-security prisoner, gardening can reinvigorate and heal. With new research collected from different cultures around the world, psychiatrist and psychotherapist Sue Stuart-Smith talks to leading landscape architect and Garden Media Guild Columnist of the Year 2019, Marian Boswall, about why it’s more important than ever to rediscover a closer relationship with the earth.

Brought to you by Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival

 

Nature

30 minutes

1:00 p.m.

Laura Lam and Temi Oh with Nicole Brandon

PANEL 

What if the only way to save humanity is to leave the collapsing Earth behind? In her debut novel Do You Dream of Terra-Two, Temi Oh sends six teenagers on an intergalactic mission to save the population of a dying Earth, while in her new novel Goldilocks, Laura Lam entrusts humanity’s last chance for survival to the first all-female space crew. Join two rising stars of contemporary science-fiction to discuss their books, while new voice Charlotte Platt caps it off with short reading from her urban fantasy novel A Stranger’s Guide.

Brought to you by Cymera: Scotland’s Festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Writing  

SCI-FI & FANTASY

60 minutes

2:00 p.m.

Jill Calder

INTERACTIVE  

Celebrating her award-winning children’s book with author James Robertson, Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, illustrator Jill Calder will inspire you to dive into history and draw the kings, queens, castles and creatures from medieval Scotland… then teach you to illustrate and make your very own folded picture book! Suitable for all ages – just make sure you have A4 or A3 paper, scissors, and colouring pencils to hand.

Brought to you by Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival

KIDS

40 minutes

3:00 p.m.

Michael Morpurgo with Clare Mulley

INTERVIEW

Join Michael Morpurgo, award-winning author of War Horse, as he talks to Clare Mulley about his bestselling World War II books for children. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day he will reveal what inspired stories such as Flamingo Boy, In the Mouth of the Wolf, An Eagle in the Snow and Waiting for Anya, which is released as a film this spring. Clare is the author of The Spy Who Loved, about the woman who saved Michael’s uncle’s life during WWII. Suitable for ages 7+

Brought to you by Big Book Weekend

 

VE DAY

45 minutes

4:00 p.m.

Robert Webb with Alex Clark

IN CONVERSATION

Robert Webb, best known for his roles in Mitchell & Webb and Peep Show, is more than just a comedian. His bestselling part-memoir, part-manifesto, How Not To Be a Boy, takes a sharp-eyed look at the state of modern masculinity, while his debut novel Come Again, is a time-travelling story of love and redemption. 

Join Webb in conversation with acclaimed literary journalist Alex Clark as they discuss his ideas and inspirations.

Brought to you by Cambridge Literary Festival

FICTION

40 minutes

5:00 p.m.

Kate Williams with Jenni Calder

INTERVIEW

Two queens on a single island: threatened by voices who believed no woman could govern, surrounded by sycophants and spies, besieged by secret plots and a terrible final act. Who will survive to rule all? The renowned author, historian and television presenter Kate Williams discusses her latest book Rival Queens: The Betrayal of Mary Queen of Scots – a “great rivalry reimagined for the #MeToo generation” – with biographer, poet and fiction writer Jenni Calder.

Brought to you by Birnam Book Festival

 

HISTORY

45 minutes

6:00 p.m.

Terry Waite CBE with Tony Gallienne

INTERVIEW

In the 1980s, while operating as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy, Terry Waite was taken and held hostage in Lebanon for nearly five years. Since then, Terry has been drawn to finding out more about the power of isolation. In this interview with Tony Gallienne from Guernsey Literary Festival, he will recall encounters with people who have experienced different ways of being solitary, sought and unsought, show how solitude shapes the human soul, and explore how it can be a force for good.

Brought to you by Guernsey Literary Festival

ISOLATION

40 minutes

7:00 p.m.

Rick Stroud

PERFORMANCE

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, biographer Rick Stroud will tell the astonishing story of Victor Gregg, aged 100, one of the last great survivors of WW2 who saw action at Alamein and Arnhem, and experienced Dresden as a POW.

Brought to you by The Boswell Book Festival

 

VE DAY

15 minutes

Saturday 9th May

10:00 a.m.

Adam Kucharski with Tim Hubbard

INTERVIEW

Why and how do ideas, false news and diseases spread? And how, in an increasingly small world, can we control them? Adam Kucharski is an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a TED fellow, a Wellcome Trust prize-winner, and has worked on global outbreaks including Ebola and Covid-19. Delving into his new book The Rules of Contagion, he will talk to Tim Hubbard about what the world is experiencing now, and how new mathematical approaches are transforming what we know about contagion in all its forms.

Brought to you by Stratford Literary Festival

SCIENCE

40 minutes

11:00 a.m.

Paul Muldoon, Lucy Caldwell and Glenn Patterson with Marie-Louise Muir

PANEL

Three talented writers from Northern Ireland – Lucy Caldwell, Paul Muldoon and Glenn Patterson – are hosted by BBC presenter and broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir in a conversation about their work and their best books of the year.

Brought to you by Belfast Book Festival

 

FICTION

50 minutes

12:00 p.m.

Neil Gaiman with Sam Weller

IN CONVERSATION 

To celebrate 100 years since the birth of legendary fantasy and sci-fi guru Ray Bradbury (Faranheit 451The Martian Chronicles), join the award-winning Bradbury biographer and writer Sam Weller in a spirited discussion with the one and only global bestseller Neil Gaiman. They muse on Bradbury’s inestimable influence and enduring popularity, and how it has inspired their own work.

Brought to you by The Bath Festival

SCI-FI & FANTASY

50 minutes

1:00 p.m.

Hafsah Aneela Bashir

PERFORMANCE

Hafsah Aneela Bashir is a poet, playwright and performer originally from the east end of London. Passionate about amplifying unheard voices, she works in the heart of the community to make that happen. Here she performs from her poetry collection The Celox and The Clot, exploring themes of love, loss and the post-colonial immigrant experience.

Brought to you by Kendal Poetry Festival

 

POETRY

35 minutes

2:00 p.m.

Samantha Miles and Rachel Falber

INTERACTIVE

Join the founders of Uh-Oh! Books for an interactive storytelling of their picture book, “Uh-Oh!” Said Flo. With activities to do throughout, listen to this eco-friendly educational story following Flo’s journey against plastic pollution and climate change, plus discover how you can make a difference in a fun and engaging way.

Brought to you by Storytale Festival

KIDS

45 minutes

3:00 p.m.

Louise Hare and Beth Morrey with Sue Wall

PANEL

Debut novelists Louise Hare and Beth Morrey take very different subjects for their books, but share central characters who are outsiders looking for their place in the world. In Hare’s This Lovely City, her central character arrives on the Empire Windrush to post-war London, but soon learns that new arrivals are treated with suspicion; while in Saving Missy, Morrey examines the loneliness of a difficult and prickly woman who finds that there are still second chances – even at 79.

Brought to you by Derby Book Festival

 

Fiction

45 minutes

4:00 p.m.

Phil Cartwright with Fran Richards

INTERVIEW

In Red Mist: Football’s Most Shocking Moments (Red Cards, Dirty Tackles, Headbutts, Pitch Invaders and More), sports journalist Phil Cartwright, explores the uglier side of the ‘beautiful game’. In an interview with Freelance Creative Practitioner Fran Richards, discussing everything from Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt to Eric Cantona’s king-fu kick, hear about the mavericks, pioneers, anti-heroes and iconic legends that have defined football history and changed the game forever.

Brought to you by Lichfield Literary Festival

Sport

35 minutes

5:00 p.m.

Luke Jennings with Sarah Hilary

INTERVIEW

Killing Eve started life as a series of self-published novellas with an avid audience of devoted fans, before becoming one of the biggest TV hits of the last two years. Crime novelist Sarah Hilary quizzes author Luke Jennings on what drove him to create a female-centred thriller that shook up the genre.

Brought to you by Lyme Crime

 

Thriller

60 minutes

6:00 p.m.

Marian Keyes and Catherine Mayer

INTERVIEW

For more than 20 years, Marian Keyes has been writing internationally-bestselling fiction that centres on and values the stories of women. Her latest novel, Grown Ups, is delighting critics and fans alike with its take on the complexities of families, friendships and female identity. In this frank, free-ranging interview, she swaps tips with bestselling author and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, Catherine Mayer, on writing, finding and using your voice, and growing into your own skin.

Brought to you by Primadonna Festival

Fiction

50 minutes

Sunday 10th May

10:00 a.m.

Sir Tim Rice and Daniel Hahn

INTERVIEW

Sir Tim Rice, President of the London Library, is the lyricist behind some of the biggest stage and screen musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, The Lion King and Aladdin. His collaborators have included Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alan Menken and Elton John, and he has written lyrics for acts as diverse as Elvis Presley, Placido Domingo and 10cc. In this interview with author Daniel Hahn, he will discuss his life and career, the inspiration for his award-winning musicals, the partnerships which have underpinned his work ,and what it takes to pen some of the best-known lyrics ever written.” 

Brought to you by London Library Lit Fest

 

Music

60 minutes

11:00 a.m.

Bidisha, Luan Goldie and Zoe Lambert with Joelle Taylor

PANEL

The anthology Resist: Stories of Uprising charts two thousand years of British resistance, from Boudica to Blair Peach, from the Battle of Cable Street to the protests after the Grenfell Tower Fire. This panel will examine the history of women’s rebellion in Britain, by focusing on three works from the collection covering Boudica, the Ford Dagenham Women’s Strike, and Seeds of Hope. The discussion will be moderated by Joelle Taylor, who hitched a ride to the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp from her home in Lancashire as a teenager, where she was arrested for taking direct political action.

Brought to you by Bradford Literature Festival

Politics

40 minutes

12:00 p.m.

AL Kennedy with Ailsa Cox

INTERVIEW

We Are Attempting To Survive Our Time is Costa Book Award-winning author A.L. Kennedy’s new collection of wry, caustic and unsparing fiction. Join her and the UK’s first Professor of Short Fiction, Ailsa Cox, to dive into the world of short story telling with these two masters of the art, and explore why it is rising in popularity today.

Brought to you by WOWFest

 

Short Stories

45 minutes

1:00 p.m.

Kia Abdullah and Abir Mukherjee

IN CONVERSATION

Social divisions are the stuff of great fiction – but they’re also a very real challenge for many people today. So how can novelists tackle class, race and politics without being reductive or biased? How can they write sympathetic characters whose views or actions they don’t necessarily agree with? And how do they deal with readers who take offence? Kia Abdullah, whose explosive legal thriller Take It Back was published in March, discusses these thorny issues with Abir Mukherjee, bestselling author of the Sam Wyndham series of crime novels set in Raj-era India.

Brought to you by Asian Booklist

Crime

50 minutes

2:00 p.m.

Will Millard

PERFORMANCE

This session for kids of all ages is book-ended by readings from Will Millard’s book, The Old Man and the Sand-Eel, which explores the wonderful world hidden just beneath the surface of Britain’s ponds and rivers.  Using live specimens gathered from the ponds in Will’s Cardiff backyard, and drawing inspiration from his ‘lockdown lessons’ on Facebook, Will introduces us to dramas played out in miniature: the tiny invertebrates that hold the food chain together, the freshwater mussels that clean the environment, the minnows, and his very own water tiger: the three-spined stickleback.

Brought to you by Pontypridd Children’s Book Festival

 

Kids

30 minutes

3:00 p.m.

Jane Casey, Liz Nugent, Gary Donnelly and Alan Judd with Paul Waters

PANEL

In this panel, broadcaster Paul Waters talks to Irish and British crime writers about their latest novels, what they tell us about society’s preoccupations, and how the genre might reflect on today’s global crises. Jane Casey’s The Cutting Place is set in the dark world of London’s elite gentlemen’s clubs, a post-#MeToo crime novel. Former soldier and diplomat Alan Judd’s latest thriller, Accidental Agent, features a spy at the heart of the Brexit negotiations. Gary Donnelly’s debut Blood Will Be Born is set in contemporary Belfast and explores historic crimes and how they still haunt Northern Irish society. And Liz Nugent will be looking at the dark side of the cult of celebrity in her latest thriller, Our Little Cruelties.

Brought to you by NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival

Crime

45 minutes

4:00 p.m.

Juno Dawson and Patrick Ness with Katherine Webber

IN CONVERSATION

Join author Katherine Webber as she meets with two leading lights of YA fiction for a discussion about writing, reading and finding your place in the world. Juno Dawson is a journalist, screenwriter and bestselling writer of young adult fiction and non-fiction, including This Book is GayMeat Market and her brand new novel Wonderland

Patrick Ness has written three novels for adults and six for young adults including The Knife of Never Letting GoA Monster Calls and his latest smash, Burn. Among other awards he has won the Carnegie Medal twice, the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

Brought to you by The Coast is Queer

 

Young Adult

50 minutes

5:00 p.m.

Juno Dawson and Patrick Ness with Katherine Webber

IN CONVERSATION

Join author Katherine Webber as she meets with two leading lights of YA fiction for a discussion about writing, reading and finding your place in the world. Juno Dawson is a journalist, screenwriter and bestselling writer of young adult fiction and non-fiction, including This Book is GayMeat Market and her brand new novel Wonderland.

Patrick Ness has written three novels for adults and six for young adults including The Knife of Never Letting GoA Monster Calls and his latest smash, Burn. Among other awards he has won the Carnegie Medal twice, the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

Brought to you by The Coast is Queer

 

Classics

50 minutes

6:00 p.m.

Bernardine Evaristo with Mairi Kidd

IN CONVERSATION

Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, Bernardine Evaristo, discusses Girl, Woman, Other with Creative Scotland’s Mairi Kidd. From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, her extraordinary novel follows a cast of twelve characters as they each search for what they’re missing – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, an absent mother, a lost father… even just a touch of hope.

Brought to you by Aye Write

Fiction

45 minutes