The Abergavenny Writing Festival

April 2022

Friday 8th

Unless stated all events take place at Kings Arms Hotel, Abergavenny, NP7 5AA. Plan your journey here

10:00am – 11:00am – Write with bite: How to tell a story –  Tickets are £7 (+ 59p booking fee) and are available here

A photograph of a man with short brown hair and facial hair on a plain white background. Join Welsh language writer Alun Davies who will be offering guidance on some of the practical elements of writing a story. What is the three act structure, and why is it important? How and why do you plan what you’re going to write? And how do you create engaging, believable characters? Based on Alun’s real world experience of writing a successful detective trilogy, we will explore how writing theory is applied both to his latest book for young adults, and to one of the all-time classics – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Alun Davies is an author, software developer, and football fan from Aberystwyth, now living in Cardiff. He is the writer behind the Taliesin Macleavy detective trilogy, and is currently working on an adventure novel for young adults, bringing the historical tales of the Mabinogi into the modern day.
Mae Alun Davies yn awdur, datblygwr meddalwedd a ffan pel-droed o Aberystwyth, sydd bellach yn byw yng Nghaerdydd. Fe ysgrifennodd treioleg dditectif Taliesin Macleavy, ac ar hyn o bryd mae’n gweithio ar nofel antur i oedolion ifanc, yn dod a hanesion y Mabinogi i’r byd cyfoes.


11:30am – 12:30pm – Catherine Fisher on Machen’s Gwent – Tickets are £7 (+59p booking fee) and are available here

Arthur Machen was an influential writer of horror and weird tales, an actor, journalist and native of Gwent. The influence of the countryside of his childhood echoes through his strange and fascinating fiction. In this talk Catherine Fisher discusses the power of the landscape in Machen’s work, with especial reference to his early Chronicle of Clemendy, newly republished by Three Impostors Press, the illustrations for which are currently on exhibition in Abergavenny Museum and Castle.

Catherine Fisher is a poet and novelist for children and young people. Her work has been shortlisted for the Blue Peter, Carnegie and Costa prizes and she has won the WBC Tir na nOg Prize twice. Her novel Incarceron was a New York Times bestseller. Catherine is a lifelong fan of
Machen’s work. She is a native of Gwent and lives in Newport.

This exhibition ‘Beyond The Veil: Visions From The World Of Arthur Machen’ is on at Abergavenny Museum until December 18th 2022. It features art inspired by the writings of Arthur Machen (1863-1947) who drew inspiration from his native Monmouthshire, its landscape, history and Roman remains, as well as medieval and Arthurian tales, the strange and supernatural, the weird and the wonderful.

Abergavenny Museum is open daily, except Wednesdays, from 11am – 4pm. Admission is Free


11:30am – 12:30pm – Natalie Jerome – For the love of the Library – Tickets are £7 (+59p booking fee) and are available here

Natalie will talk about her love of books and reading and her connection with the local library which played a big role in transporting her from her upbringing in Newport by a single parent Mum to a career as a top commissioning editor, Publisher and now Literary agent. As one of the few black literary agents working in the UK today, she will also talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion in books.

At Natalie’s request her fee for taking part will be donated to #bookaidforUkraine as will ticket proceeds.

Natalie Jerome has worked as a Publisher and Acquiring Editor for some of the UK’s most prominent publishing houses before making the move across to literary agenting. Included in the 2018 publishing trade magazine The Bookseller’s Industry top 100 and 2021’s top 150, she was described as a ‘brand publishing wizard’ having acquired and published books that have sold, during the course of her career to date, six million copies driving revenue of £30m. Natalie specialises in commercial Non-Fiction and has commissioned and published books by a host of high-profile names including the multi-million copy-selling One Direction titles as well as books from George Best, Alan Carr, Chris Evans, JLS, Little Mix, Gary Barlow and Rochelle Humes. As a literary agent at Curtis Brown, her clients include the actor David Harewood and Sir Lenny Henry.

Event takes place at Abergavenny Library, Please note it has recently moved to above the Borough Theatre, Abergavenny NP7 5HD –  Plan your journey here

13:00 – 14:00pm – Working writers discussion with Jo Stichbury, Jonathan Page, Fergus Collins & Jo Thomas – Tickets are £7 (+ 59p booking fee) and are available here

Can you actually make a living from writing? How do you go about it? What kinds of specialist writing jobs exist? What are some of the practical issues working writers need to consider? We’ll be examining these questions and many more with a panel of professional writers.

Our panel of working writers will be made up of:
Jo Stichbury is based near Abergavenny.  She works as a freelance technical writer for a range of clients, writing mostly for an audience of software developers to help build communities.
Jo Thomas is a writer and editor with a knack for making words work. She’s been tackling the blank page with glee, and helping others do the same, for over 15 years.
Jonathan Page works as a senior technical writer for Temenos, the world’s leading provider of banking software. His role has expanded in recent years to include a content transformation project in Temenos India, a residency with IBM, and the organisation of internal product conferences.
Fergus Collins is Editor at BBC Countryfile Magazine and creator of Countryfile Plodcast. Fergus is a multi-award winning writer and editor with 20 years’ experience in consumer magazine publishing.




14:30 – 15:30pm – How a story gets written – Tickets are £7 (+ 59p booking fee) and are available here

Our panel of writers – Diana Powell, Pamela Petro, Awais Khan and Michelle Gordon – will talk about their own writing processes and inspiration followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Diana Powell’s novella, ‘Esther Bligh’, was published in 2018 (Holland House Books). Her short story collection, ‘Trouble Crossing the Bridge’ was published in 2020 (Chaffinch Press). Her novella, ‘The Sisters of Cynvael’, won the 2021 Cinnamon Press Award, and comes out next year.

Pamela Petro is a writer, artist, and educator. She’s the author of four books, including ‘The Long Field – Wales and the Presence of Absence, A Memoir’, published by Little Toller in 2021 and selected as one of the Year’s Best Travel books by The Telegraph and The Financial Times.

Awais Khan is the award-winning author of ‘No Honour’ and ‘In The Company Of Strangers’. A graduate of The University of Western Ontario and Durham University, he has also studied Creative Writing with Faber Academy in London. He teaches an online creative writing course with The Writing Institute.

A literary alchemist, Michelle Gordon has been creating worlds with her words since 2009. Michelle has so far penned nineteen books, she also has a publishing business, a letterpress business and is an avid crafter.



16:00 – 17:00pm – James Hawes’ Brilliant Isles – A high speed tour with Q&A – Tickets are £5 (+ 42p booking fee) and are available here

From the coming of the Saxons, the tale of these islands is nothing like the heritage industry view of continuity and peaceful traditions. Instead, it’s one of dislocations, resistances, assimilations and reconstructions which have made “us“ (whoever “we” were, are, and are becoming) unique. Focusing especially on artifacts with the strongest links to Wales, internationally bestselling writer James Hawes, story consultant for the landmark BBC TV series Art That Made Us,  offers a high-speed visual tour through the art and history of these islands, with plenty of time for no holds barred Q&A.

Explore the history of the British isles. Through 80 extraordinary creations from Beowulf and the Bayeux tapestry to Banksy, Stormzy, and beyond . . .  A companion book to the landmark BBC series, Brilliant Isles tells the story of these islands through art, music, literature and design – the spectacular creations of visionaries, mavericks and rule-breakers who responded to their times and shaped the future. Whether read cover-to[1]cover or browsed at random.




19:00 – 20:00 – Friday night online open-mic – Tickets are free but booking is essential, book tickets here

If you can’t join us in person for this year’s Aber Writing Fest there’s a chance to connect online and share your words with us and our virtual audience. Dominic Williams, the MC of West Wales most established regular spoken-word event: ‘Cerddi yn Cwrw’ will host this open-mic session. We welcome writers, in all their forms, to sign-up and participate; from poetry and prose and from comedy to song – as long as it’s material you have written we’d like you to take part.

Dominic Williams was a partner in the delivery of the inaugural Dinefwr Festival in Llandeilo and the Pili Pala festival in Swansea. Since 2014 he has curated the literary programme for an international arts festival, ‘Tranås at the Fringe’ in Sweden. In 2006 he delivered the ‘Welsh Writing for the World’ festival in New York and has performed his own work in the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and the US. Williams has also worked with poets translating work from Bengali, Turkish and Swedish.

Email if you’d like to take part in the open-mic. Each slot will be a maximum of 3 minutes.

From 20.00 – 20.30 Film screenings on YouTube Premiere
Films to be screened: Reading: “Ataxia, only joking!” & Writing practitioners discussion panel about ethics: “Lost like a car on the roundabout.”
In partnership with ‘Press Speak Not Delete’ an R&D project funded by the Arts Council of Wales creating a hybrid of physical performance and digital channels to develop a more diverse and accessible arts sector.