Hay Days

Francesca Capaldi Burgess has just spent a couple of days at the Hay Festival.

x6385 smI was going to call this post ‘Make Hay while the sun shines’, but unfortunately the sun was mixed with a good deal of wind and rain. Nevertheless, I spent an enjoyable Wednesday and Friday at Hay Festival.

On Wednesday, I went with my good friend Catherine Burrows, who like me has had short stories published and is now writing novels. We sat in on an interview with Victoria Hislop, author of The Island, talking about the whys and wherefores of her latest novel, The Sunrise, set in the deserted town of Famagusta in Cyprus. We then did a tour of the festival itself, mostly under huge marquees, before taking the shuttle bus (£1 return) into the town, which is full of new and second hand book shops – well worth a visit. We enjoyed our day but decided that next time (yes, we want to go again!) we’d book more talks, of which there were many on offer.

x Catherine Book 2015-05-27 17.29.06

Catherine was thrilled to find her book in Richard Booth’s famous bookshop!


The Make and Take Tent

The Make and Take Tent

Onto Friday, and a very different day with my daughter-in-law and the three children. Apart from a full programme of entertainment, Hay has much to offer children in the shape of a ‘Mess’ Tent and a Make and Take Tent, where children can partake in various activities. Eleven-year-old Ben enjoyed attending a talk with Michael Morpurgo and a story telling session with Daniel Morden and Oliver Wilson-Dickson, while two-year-old Phynn was thrilled with the Peter Rabbit puppet show.

In the morning I attended a recording of the Radio 4 programme Front Row. The debate was ‘Do we publish too many books?’and covered, among other things, ebooks, diversity and how to engage young readers. You can listen to it here: Radio 4 Front Row debate at the Hay Festival

Samira Ahmed talks to Philip Jones editor of the trade journal The Bookseller, Crystal Mahey-Morgan Digital Sales and Marketing Director at Zed Books, Alexandra Pringle, the group editor in chief of Bloomsbury and Ali Sparks author of 41 books for children.

Samira Ahmed talks to Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, Crystal Mahey-Morgan, Digital Sales and Marketing Director at Zed Books, Alexandra Pringle, group editor in chief of Bloomsbury and Ali Sparks, children’s author

Meg Rosoff on the Starlight Stage

Meg Rosoff on the Starlight Stage

In the afternoon I attended a talk by YA author Meg Rosoff, a favourite of mine. She talked about how she gets ideas and her own writing process. She reckoned a writer could either pull a story along, like dragging a tyre on a beach to the destination they wanted, or follow it to see where it went, which she felt was the ideal method. She likes to write in thin layers, so that draft after draft she adds a new layer. She never thinks about an audience when she’s writing (which writers are usually advised to do) but asks herself a question and attempts to answer it. Meg was highly entertaining as well as informative and I’d certainly like to hear her talk again if I got the opportunity.

My daughter-in-law’s father went to see Marc Morris, an historian who’s new book looks at King John and whether he was the king we think he was. I’d love to have attended that too but it clashed with Meg Rosoff. Typical!

Along with some awesome and diverse eating places, there was, of course, the huge book tent. Signings were held in here (I couldn’t hang around long enough for Meg  sadly), along with books already signed by attending authors.

The book tent, or marquee, more like.

The book tent, or marquee, more like.

All in all we enjoyed our trips out to Hay and agreed we’d definitely attend again next year.


Hay Montage


You can still see the huge programme on offer at Hay HERE

Hay Festival general website HERE. There are ‘Hay’ Festivals all over the world at different times of the year.



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8 thoughts on “Hay Days

  1. It sounds wonderful. Nothing like being surrounded by books and literary types. I’m sure you’ve come back inspired and energised by the whole experience.It’s also awe inspiring to listen to writers you admire speaking about their craft. Lovely pictures, and good to see Catherine’s smiling face. As always,a lively and interesting blog. Thank you.

    • You’d love it, Angela. Next year? I’ll certainly book more writer talks next time as I really enjoyed the two I attended. I’m currently listening to the Front Row recording and it’s rather weird knowing I was there! And yes, it was lovely to see Catherine.

  2. It was very enjoyable reading and it sounds like it’s definitely worth a visit. Angela is right about being surrounded by books and all things literary. I’m glad you enjoyed it and managed to meet up with Catherine. Elaine R x

  3. A lovely day! I hope we can repeat our visit next year and organise a group perhaps? It would be lovely to see everyone. Victoia Hislop was incredibly inspiring. I was mesmerised. She has certainly helped my word count. Catherine x

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