The Abergavenny Writing Festival

April 2020


Our 2020 events will be announced soon. 

Friday 12th April 2019 Line-Up

Events take place at: Kings Arms Hotel, 29 Nevill Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AA – Plan your journey here

10.15am – 11:15am – What Makes Me, Me? 

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Join Sid Madge, founder of Meee and author of ‘Meee In A Minute’ for an enlightening discussion about becoming a first-time author, writing with dyslexia, the highs, and lows of self-publishing and the importance of self-belief.

The Meee Programme tackles a whole spectrum of topics, from confidence to circumstances, attitude to aptitude. While each situation is unique, we believe it’s important for everyone to concentrate on their positive traits, strengths, and beliefs, not the barriers they’re up against.

We help people of all ages understand what it is that makes us unique by identifying our natural strengths, skills, and values. This way we can all make better choices and decisions in our working and personal lives, and ultimately live happier and more fulfilled lives.

Our first publication – Meee In A Minute: 60 Ways To Improve Your Life In 60 Seconds, is a self-published, self-help guide aimed at all ages. By encompassing both learning and personal experience, this book is a testament to the people we have met on our courses.

11:15am-12.30pm – Writing Loss and Lostness with Christina Thatcher – meet @ Kings Arms Hotel, to then take a short walk to Linda Vista Gardens, NP7 5DL 

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Elizabeth Bishop tells us that ‘the art of losing isn’t hard to master’. In this workshop, we will explore what it means to lose and be lost. We will talk about lost loves, lost time, lost hope, lost lives. Those attending will be invited to read and discuss contemporary poetry on the theme of loss as well as produce and share their own work. Together, amongst the blooms and blossoms of Abergavenny’s Linda Vista Gardens, we will create a safe, supportive space to discuss our experiences of loss and lostness.

This workshop will be led by Christina Thatcher who is a Creative Writing Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Her poetry and short stories have been published in over 40 literary magazines and her debut collection, More than you were, was published by Parthian Books in 2017. To learn more about Christina’s work visit her website: or follow her on Twitter: @writetoempower.

Meet for this workshop at the Kings Arms, Abergavenny – the group will walk to Linda Vista Gardens together.

11.30am-12.30pm – I’ve Got Chills: Creating Atmosphere in Horror Fiction 

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Once considered niche even within the realms of genre fiction, interest in horror has been growing steadily for the past twenty years. In both film and fiction, even creators in other genres have been borrowing from horror to create added tension and atmosphere in their work. But how is that atmosphere created?

In this workshop, we will explore examples from contemporary horror fiction to examine how authors today are creating horrific atmosphere using only the written word. Looking also at pacing and sustaining levels of atmosphere, this workshop will seek to help writers of long- and short-form fiction create those tense, stomach-clenching moments that so many readers are coming to expect from good horror.

Vicky Brewster is a freelance editor and proof-reader based in the Swansea Valley. Although Vicky accepts commissions for most long-form fiction, she is particularly specialised in horror, thriller and speculative fiction, helping authors to give their work the creep factor.

12:45pm-13:45pm – The Pleasure of Writing with Marianne Kavanagh

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Join author and journalist Marianne Kavanagh for an inspiring talk on the pleasure of writing. Whether you’re writing a diary, a memoir or a novel, whether you’re writing as a hobby or for publication, it’s important to hold on to the joy of the process itself – that is, the pleasure of writing. So much gets in the way (earning a living, family commitments, self-doubt, publishing the work itself) that we sometimes forget why we started in the first place. A talk that reminds us why and how we try to craft clear, rhythmic, memorable prose, with examples from classic and contemporary fiction.

Marianne Kavanagh has worked for a number of titles, including Marie Claire and the Telegraph, and has written features for a wide variety of magazines, newspapers and websites. Her first two novels, romantic comedies, were translated into eight languages and sold all over the world. Her third novel Should You Ask Me, set in 1944, won critical praise (“Kavanagh is a perceptive and vivid writer and this tale of ordinary lives transformed by extraordinary events has so much period atmosphere, you can practically hear the air-raid sirens” Daily Mail). Her fourth novel Disturbance, a psychological thriller about a lonely woman driven to the edge by rejection and betrayal, has just been published by Hodder & Stoughton.

1.00pm-4.00pm – Writing and Riding wit Emily Chappel @ Gateway Cycles, 5-9 Brecon Road, Abergavenny, NP7 5UH – Plan your journey here

Tickets are £21.55 and available to buy here

It’s no coincidence that cycling produces such great literature, and this three-hour workshop will explore the connection between riding a bike and putting words on the page.

Led by author and long-distance cyclist Emily Chappell, the session will involve a 20-mile bike ride in the countryside around Abergavenny, at a pace suitable for all. We’ll stop at regular intervals to discuss how we translate our cycling experiences and passions into words, and each participant will draft, edit and have the opportunity to share a piece of work as we go.

Please make sure your bike is safe and roadworthy, and that you are carrying a drink, a snack, and adequate clothing (bear in mind there will be some standing around, so you may need an extra layer). You’ll also need a pen and paper.

Emily Chappell is a former cycle courier, was the fastest woman in the 2016 Transcontinental Race, and has travelled several continents by bike, surviving mountains, deserts, and temperatures as low as -40. She is an award-winning blogger, and her writing has appeared in Vogue, National Geographic, the Guardian, the Independent, and numerous cycling media. Her first book What Goes Around was published by Faber in 2016, and her second, Where There’s A Will is due out in November.

2.00-3.00pm – Can I Write a TV Script? With BBC Writersroom 

Event is free, but pre-registration is essential. Register here

Ever considered writing for screen? This exclusive session with BBC Writersroom Wales will explore the key elements needed to create a standout TV script, including investigation into character, structure, dialogue and genre along with what producers look for in speculative scripts. The session is for anyone with an interest in screenwriting regardless of experience. New writers will get an introduction to the basic elements of good storytelling, or it will serve as a great refresher course for more experienced screenwriters.

BBC Writersroom discover, develop and champion new and experienced writing talent across the whole of the UK. We are a cross-genre department for scripted content who work with Drama, Comedy, CBBC, CBeebies, Radio, Online – and others.

The session will be led by Helen Perry who has been the Development Producer for BBC Writersroom in Wales since January 2018. Before joining the BBC Writersroom she worked as a Producer / Director in BBC Radio Drama. She has produced a vast number of original dramas, readings and series for Radio 4, Radio 3, World Service, Radio Wales and 1Xtra.

This is a free event but pre-registration is essential.

3:15-4.15pm – Writing to someone on Death Row with Phil Madden 

Tickets are £7 available to buy here (Ticket includes this event and Storytelling through Film)

Phil Madden has been writing to a prisoner on Death Row in South Carolina for many years through the organisation Life Lines. Though they haven’t met they have become close friends. Life Lines links UK letter writers with prisoners on Death Row in the United States. It is the first established organisation of its kind, and has spread both nationally and internationally, with members all over the world.

This participative event will discuss the obligations and rewards of Death Row letter writing and also, more generally, the enduring uniqueness of all letter writing in the social media age.

Phil will be featured in a documentary by Shuffle Films on UK letter writers’ experience. This session will be filmed by Shuffle Films for potential inclusion in their forthcoming film and will be followed by a talk from the film-makers.

Admission price of £7 includes the cost of both Phil Madden’s and Shuffle Films’ talks.


4.30-5.30pm – Storytelling through Film: Letters from the Blue 

Tickets are £7 available here (Ticket includes this event and Writing to Someone on Death Row)

Nick Calori (director), Nick Sersale (director) and Elettra Pizzi (producer) will present clips from their upcoming film ‘Letters from the Blue’, a feature documentary on pen-palships with inmates on Death Row.

The filmmakers will discuss the numerous challenges in constructing a film based on letter writing. In particular they will show clips from the film to demonstrate the importance of allowing real life moments to speak for themselves and how additional layers of narrative (provided by the letters) should add new and interesting layers of meaning. They will also discuss the importance of narrative arc, character development and how the term ‘observational documentary’ might be a contradiction in terms.

Between them, Nick Sersale (Komeda films), Nick Calori (shufflefilms), Elettra Pizzi (130elektrafilms) have directed, edited and produced both feature films and documentaries including the award winning ‘Gualtiero Marchesi, the Great Italian’, ‘Greater Things’, and ‘The Invisible Word.’

Admission price of £7 includes the cost of this talk and the preceding one with Phil Madden.

Like our Facebook page Abergavenny Writing Festival for the latest updates


Thursday                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Saturday