Watch BIG BOOK WEEKEND 2020
Welcome to the video archive for the first Big Book Weekend, which took place during lockdown on 8-10 May 2020. Here you can watch videos of all of the sessions. Enjoy!
Anne Brontë, feminist
Jackie Kay, Adjoa Andoh, Isabel Greenberg, Cathy Newman
To mark the 200th anniversary of Anne Brontë’s birth, enjoy conversation, graphic artworks and live readings from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Join novelist and poet Jackie Kay, award-winning British graphic novelist Isabel Greenberg, acclaimed actor and director Adjoa Andoh, and journalist and broadcaster Cathy Newman as they discuss this feminist pioneer. From Charleston Festival.
Classics, Feminism, Fiction, History
Books bring us together
Maggie O’Farrell, Damian Barr
Award-winning British-Irish author Maggie O’Farrell discusses the joy and importance of book festivals, and her latest novel Hamnet, with journalist and debut novelist Damian Barr.
Creating Killing Eve
Luke Jennings, Sarah Hilary
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. From Lyme Crime.
Crime and Thriller, Fiction, Queer
Crime for our times
Jane Casey, Alan Judd, Gary Donnelly, Liz Nugent, Paul Waters
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; Alan Judd’s Accidental Agent, features a spy at the heart of the Brexit negotiations; Gary Donnelly’s Blood Will Be Born explores how historic crimes still haunt Northern Irish society; and Liz Nugent looks at the dark side of the cult of celebrity in Our Little Cruelties. From NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival.
Crime and Thriller, Fiction, Politics
Draw medieval Scotland
Celebrating her award-winning children’s book with author James Robertson, Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, illustrator Jill Calder inspires us to dive into history and draw the kings, queens, castles and creatures from medieval Scotland… then make your very own folded picture book! Suitable for all ages – just make sure you have A4 or A3 paper, scissors, and colouring pencils. From Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival.
Art, History, Kids
Laura Lam, Temi Oh, Charlotte Platt
What if the only way to save humanity is to leave the collapsing Earth behind? In 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 Goldilocks, Laura Lam entrusts humanity’s last chance for survival to the first all-female space crew. Two rising stars of contemporary science-fiction discuss their books, while Charlotte Platt caps it off with a reading from her urban fantasy novel A Stranger’s Guide. From Cymera: Scotland’s Festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Writing.
Feminism, Fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Football’s most shocking moments
Phil Cartwright, Fran Richards
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’. Talking to Fran Richards, he discusses everything from Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt to Eric Cantona’s king-fu kick, exploring the mavericks, pioneers, anti-heroes and icons that have defined football history. From Lichfield Literary Festival.
History, Non-fiction, Sport
Girl, Woman, Other
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. From Aye Write.
Feminism, Fiction, Queer, Race
Hope, humour and The Talented Mr Varg
Alexander McCall Smith
Master story-teller Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, offers a gentle escape into a world of hope and humour. He reads a special message written for the Big Book Weekend, performs two poems to inspire and uplift, and reads from his latest book, The Talented Mr. Varg. From Shoreham Wordfest.
Crime and Thriller, Fiction, Poetry
How to be a woman
Marian Keyes, Catherine Mayer
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 with its take on the complexities of families, friendships and female identity. In this frank, free-ranging interview, she talks to author and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, Catherine Mayer, about writing, using your voice, and growing into your own skin. From Primadonna Festival.
Feminism, Fiction, Mental health, Romance
Journey to a greener planet
Samantha Miles, Rachel Falber
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. From Storytale Festival.
Men, time travel and love
Robert Webb, Alex Clark
Robert Webb, best known for 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. He discusses his ideas and inspirations with journalist Alex Clark. From Cambridge Literary Festival.
Fiction, Mental health, Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Northern Irish writing now
Paul Muldoon, Lucy Caldwell, Glenn Patterson, Marie-Louise Muir
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. From Belfast Book Festival.
Outsiders and imagination
Louise Hare, Beth Morrey
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 heroine 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 prickly woman who finds that there are still second chances – even at 79. From Derby Book Festival.
Resist: stories of uprising
Bidisha, Luan Goldie, Zoe Lambert, Joelle Taylor
The anthology Resist: Stories of Uprising charts two thousand years of British resistance, from the Battle of Cable Street to the protests after the Grenfell Tower Fire. This panel will focus 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 as a teenager. From Bradford Literature Festival.
Feminism, History, Non-fiction, Politics
Kate Williams, Jenni Calder
Two queens on a single island, surrounded by sycophants and spies, besieged by secret plots. Who will survive to rule all? 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. From Birnam Book Festival.
Feminism, History, Non-fiction
Surviving through stories
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. From WOWFest.
Tackling big issues in fiction
Kia Abdullah, Abir Mukherjee
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, author of legal thriller Take It Back, discusses these thorny issues with Abir Mukherjee, bestselling author of the Sam Wyndham series of crime novels set in Raj-era India. From Asian Booklist.
Crime and Thriller, Fiction, Race
Tales from a west end legend
Sir Tim Rice, Daniel Hahn
Sir Tim Rice 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 discusses his life, career and the inspiration for his award-winning musicals. From London Library Lit Fest.
Telling war stories
Michael Morpurgo, Clare Mulley
Michael Morpurgo, award-winning author of War Horse, talks to Clare Mulley about his bestselling World War II books for children. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day he reveals what inspired stories such as Flamingo Boy, In the Mouth of the Wolf, An Eagle in the Snow and Waiting for Anya. Suitable for ages 7+.
Fiction, History, Kids
The celox and the clot
Hafsah Aneela Bashir
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. From Kendal Poetry Festival.
The forgotten WWII hero
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 World War II who saw action at Alamein and Arnhem, and experienced Dresden as a Prisoner of War.
History, Non-fiction, Politics
The genius of Ray Bradbury
Neil Gaiman, Sam Weller
To celebrate 100 years since the birth of legendary fantasy and sci-fi guru Ray Bradbury (Faranheit 451, The 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.
Classics, Fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy
The magical world of ponds
This session for kids of all ages is book-ended by readings from Will Millard’s book, The Old Man and the Sand-Eel. Using live specimens gathered from the ponds in his Cardiff backyard, and drawing inspiration from his ‘lockdown lessons’ on Facebook, Will introduces us to the wonderful world hidden just beneath the surface of Britain’s ponds and rivers. From Pontypridd Children’s Book Festival.
Kids, Nature, Non-fiction
The power of isolation
Terry Waite CBE, Tony Gallienne
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 show how solitude shapes the human soul, and explore how it can be a force for good. From Guernsey Literary Festival.
Mental health, Non-fiction, Politics
The rules of contagion
Adam Kucharski, Tim Hubbard
Why and how do ideas, false news and diseases spread? And how, in an increasingly small world, can we control them? Author, TED fellow and Wellcome Prize-winner Professor Adam Kucharski has worked on global outbreaks including Ebola and Covid-19. He discusses his new book on contagion in all its forms with Tim Hubbard. From Stratford Literary Festival.
Why we need gardens
Sue Stuart-Smith, Marion Boswall
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. From Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival.
Mental health, Nature, Non-fiction
Wonder, weirdness, writing
Juno Dawson, Patrick Ness
Author Katherine Webber 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 books including This Book is Gay, Meat Market and Wonderland. Patrick Ness has written three novels for adults and six for young adults including The Knife of Never Letting Go, A Monster Calls and Burn, and has won the Carnegie Medal twice, the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. From The Coast is Queer.
Fiction, Mental health, Queer, Young Adult