Comic Creators on board for Fifth Stoke Newington Literary Festival

Oscar Zarate

Oscar Zarate

Comic creators Oscar Zarate and ILYA and SF authors Ben Aaronovitch and Stephen Hunt will be rubbing shoulders with Mog the Cat (and a host of mainstream authors) at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival which returns for a fifth year for the weekend 6th-8th June 2014.

The pair team up for an event on Saturday 7th June, Living and Loving in London in the Stoke Newington Library Gallery.

Oscar Zarate: The ParkOscar Zarate’s The Park, set in North London, revolves around an incident of dog bites man; man kicks dog. The event is then blogged about, with some visceral reactions; a sporadic event becomes a sensation. Best known for his collaborations with Alan Moore and Alexi Sayle, Zarate’s watercolours bring London to life.

ILYA: Room for LoveA chance encounter in London is also central to ILYA’s Room For Love, which brings together a middle-class, middle-aged romance novelist with a teenage runaway making a living as a rent boy. Finding unexpected common ground, an unlikely friendship forms. Ilya’s most recent work was his debut novel The Clay Dreaming; he has contributed to The Mammouth Book Of Best New Manga.

Firmly rooted in the vibrant community of Stoke Newington 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, football, food, feminism, dissent, psychology and the food we eat to some of the most exciting fiction emerging this year.

Although launched only five years ago, the festival has established itself as one of the more interesting literary events in the UK and is regularly featured in the ‘top 5’ by publications such as BA High Life, Stylist Magazine, The Times and New Statesman. It attracts people from all over London and beyond to enjoy a diverse programme of events in interesting and quirky venues dotted around the compact and lively centre of Stoke Newington.

Along with appearances by The Kinks’ legend Ray Davies, talking to film director Julien Temple about his life, work and new book Americana, The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company doing an event for the whole family, Phill Jupitus and local poet Tim Wells doing dad dancing, The Science of Star Wars and appearances by Mog the Cat, the creation of Judith Kerr and much more, the Festival offers a number of workshops that might be of interest to comic creators including:

How to Write for Children
Saturday 7th June

Join local authors Tom Huddleston and Zanna Davidson in a discussion followed by a question and answer session on how they write for the children’s and teen market and how they went about getting published. Just because a book is for children, does that make it easier to write? How do you work out what age group you are writing for? They will also be able to tell you about the things Children’s authors do that you might not have thought about – school visits, twitter, festivals…

• Human and Interspecies Relationships in Science-Fiction and Fantasy
Sunday 8th June

When it comes to science fiction and fantasy, many of us blur the lines between the two. In fact, most authors do the same – a crossover of genres often occurs throughout their careers, sometimes even within the same book! We talk to four of the leading writers in this area – Ben Aaronovitch, Stephen Hunt, Mitch Benn and Jon Wallace – about what it means to be a genre writer and how they manage to haggle with the boundaries.

Ben Aaronovitch is the author of the brilliant Sunday Times bestselling PC Peter Grant series of novels (Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho, Whispers Under Ground, Broken Homes and the upcoming Foxglove Summer, as well as working with Andrew Cartmel on a graphic novel based on the series, to be published by Titan Comics). He was born and raised in London, and his love for the city is reflected throughout the series. Ben has also previously written for television, including Doctor Who, and worked as a bookseller. He still resides in London, and is currently working on his next novel.

• Never be stuck for an idea again! Ciaran Murtagh’s story writing workshop (7+)

Come and join CBBC’s Ciaran Murtagh as he takes you through the process of choosing a book title, picking characters and looking at plot in a way that guarantees you will never be able to say they can’t think of anything to write again! It may also involve cruelty to books and other things we don’t approve of at Literary Festivals.

Rounding off the Festival is a more general talk on The Future of the Book, reflecting ongoing debate about the future of books and publishing. Digital, e-books, A***zon, ‘old school’ books: where do the opportunities lie and what’s likely to suffer? Phil Jones, Editor of The Bookseller, invites 4 leading commentators to help chart a course through the issues. Best-selling author novelist & tech blogger Nick Harkaway (The Blind Giant), Eric Huang (digital guru, founder of Made In Me, ex Moshi Monsters, Penguin, Disney), self-publishing success story Polly Courtney (Feral YouthGolden Handcuffs) and Stephanie Seegmuller (Pushkin Press).

Over 300 years ago Stoke Newington, then a village outside London, was full of radicals, dissenters and pamphleteers. Now in 2014, property prices are going through the roof while, down the road in Dalston, the food bank has never been busier. Against this background of poverty versus gentrification in a rapidly changing city, festival partners, New Humanist, have commissioned writers such as Thurston Moore and Ellie Mae O’Hagan to contribute to a festival pamphlet on what ‘community’ actually means. Festival goers will also be able to contribute their thoughts on what community means to them on a website and on postcards over the weekend.

The festival will also showcase the work of Arts Emergency, a Hackney-based charity working across the UK to encourage and support working class and low-income kids into arts degrees. Founder and comedian Josie Long will be popping up over festival weekend signing people up to its 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.”

Tickets for the Festival are available from:
• Stoke Newington Bookshop, 159 Stoke Newington High Street
• Stoke Newington Library (from 2nd June)

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