The Abergavenny Writing Festival

April 2020


Our 2020 events will be announced soon. 

Thursday 11th April 2019 Line-Up

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

9.15am- 10.15am – Pitching and Presenting Fact-Based Books 

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Join Jonathan Powell for a writer’s guide to pitching and presenting a fact-based book to potential publishers. A look at the process involved from initial engagement to possible commission, with a few do’s and don’ts to increase your chances of being accepted. With a vast array of potential topics, how to try and make your book unique, even when your specialised field seems saturated with other books. Question and Answer session to follow.

With an interest in astronomy since the early 1980’s, Jonathan has freelanced for BBC Radio Wales, gaining a regular slot with Roy Noble which ran for three years. Jonathan has also written for national magazines including Astronomy Now, and currently has a regular article in the BBC Sky at Night magazine. On a local level, he had a column in the Abergavenny Chronicle which ran for six years, presently with a monthly column in the South Wales Argus. Jonathan has written two books on astronomy and is currently working on a third commissioned book.

10.30am – 11.30am – How to Publish in the Digital Age 

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Paulin Prifti of Paul Smith Publishing (a London based book publishing company handling both fiction and non-fiction) will share his experience of book editing, manuscript evaluation, preparing books for publication and handling publishing agreements.

Paulin will explore subjects such as: What are the crucial elements every publisher looks for in a manuscript? Common cover design and interior formatting mistakes and how to avoid them; Pricing eBooks and physical books and why pitching one against the other matters; The real truth behind bestsellers and why narrowing down your target readership matters and much, much more.




12.00pm-1.00pm – A Whirlwind Tour of Copyright Law 

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Robert Taylor is a media and entertainment lawyer with niche London law firm Cubism Law. Join Robert for a whirlwind tour of copyright law and learn how to protect your rights and not get ripped off. A produced screenwriter and former Chair of the Writers Guild of Great Britain, Robert specialises in advising authors, filmmakers, composers, photographers and others in the creative industries.

Copyright provides the legal basis for authors to own and control their works and earn money when it is used. Robert will explain the basics of the law that all aspiring or experienced authors should be aware of, in a non-technical way. Also covered will be difficult topics such as making sure your work is covered by copyright, collaborating with others on creative projects, dealing with source material and making sure you get paid.

You can find out more about Robert:

Here on Cubism Law


Here on LinkedIn

1.15pm – 2.15pm -Children’s Classics: Nostalgic Conditioning for a National Rural Myth

Tickets are £5 and available to buy here

Patrick Hannay presents his thesis for discussion:

“Beatrix Potter a founder of the National Trust. Is that where the rot began?

Did childhood tales sentimentalise our view of the countryside?

As generations left the rural for the town and the city, were the ‘Ruperts’ and ‘Alices in Wonderland’ a desperate pining for a lost past?

Does this in turn account now for our nimbyish rural protectionism and disconnect from the likely real future for our countryside?”

Patrick Hannay is Editor of Touchstone the Journal for Architecture in Wales, a resident of Abergavenny and Chair of its Transition Town.

He is a member of the JUST FOOD group and the Abergavenny Food Forum’s lead on Land Access.

2.30pm – 3.30pm – Do We All Have a Novel in Us?  Panel Debate 

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Join authors Cath Barton, Jack Strange, CG Menon and Penny Ellis in discussion with Focus Magazine editor Hannah Hill. The panellists will discuss why they write, how they write, offering insights and tips from their own personal experiences. There will also be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions.

Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in Abergavenny. Her prize-winning debut novella The Plankton Collector is published by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. She was awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Enhanced Mentoring Scheme to complete a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch. Active in the online flash fiction community, Cath is also a regular contributor to the online critical hub Wales Arts Review.

J.S. Strange is a Welsh writer, residing in Pontypool. His murder mystery novel, Murder on the Rocks, features a leading gay male detective and is based in Cardiff. In 2016 and 2017, Jack published ‘Winter Smith: London’s Burning’ and ‘Winter Smith: The Secrets of France’, two novels that were set in an apocalyptic London. Whilst not writing, Strange is an editor for BBC Wales.

CG Menon is the author of Subjunctive Moods, published by Dahlia Publishing. She’s won or been placed in a number of competitions, including the Fish, Bridport, Bare Fiction and Short Fiction Journal awards. Her work has been broadcast on radio, and she’s been a judge for several international short fiction competitions. She has a PhD in pure mathematics and an MA in creative writing from City University, for which she won the annual prize. She is represented by Zoë Waldie of Rogers, Coleridge & White.

Penny Ellis is now concentrating on writing fiction following a career in science teaching and writing educational materials. The crime thriller, Painted Ladies, featuring transwoman detective Jasmine Frame, was published in 2013 and Penny is now planning the fifth in the series. Penny is also author of four Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy novels published by Elsewhen Press. Born in Cardiff but now settled in Monmouth, Penny identifies as gender neutral.

Hannah Hill is the director and editor of Focus Magazines based in Monmouthshire, publishing community magazines for Abergavenny, Crickhowell and Brecon. She is a creative writing and psychology graduate, a freelance copywriter and also works part time as a consultant behavioural analyst.

3.45pm – 4.45pm – Want to Write a Novel? Then Just F*****g do it

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Want to write a novel? Then just f**king do it.

Michelle Gordon is the author of 15 novels and a bestselling self-help book called Where’s My F**king Unicorn? She does not fit into the mould of a typical author, as she does not plot or plan her books, develop characters or even drink coffee. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a writer, but until she discovered Nanowrimo at the age of 25, she didn’t believe she could possibly write a full-length novel. It seems all she needed to do was to find her method and JFDI. She has created all of her books using the Nanowrimo method, and in this talk, she will show you how you can do the same.

It’s time to stop saying ‘one day I will write a novel’ and start actually writing it.

This method works for fiction and non-fiction, coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers, and viking hats are optional. Be aware, the talk may contain some swearing.

5pm – 6pm – How to Make a Living as a Writer 

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

How to make a living as a writer: the business of writing and what you need to know.
Finishing your manuscript is not the end of your writing journey – it’s just the beginning. What should you expect from a publishing deal and how can you maximise your revenues? Join Jo McCrum (Head of Groups, Society of Authors) and novelist Paula Brackston (Chair of Society of Authors in Wales) who will guide you through the ins and outs of mainstream publishing.

The SoA is a trade union for all types of writers, illustrators and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. They have been advising individuals and campaign and lobby for the profession for more than a century. The SoA also administers grants and prizes to support and celebrate authors at all stages of their careers.


6pm – 7pm  – You Are Not Human: How Words Kill with author Simon Lancaster 

Tickets are £7 and available to buy here

Author and speechwriter Simon Lancaster talks about his latest book ‘You are not human: how words kill’ followed by a Q&A session. This book raises profound questions about the power of language and the language of power. You will never think about words in the same way again.

In Nazi Germany, Hitler portrayed the Jews as vermin and six million people were killed. Metaphors can make the unreasonable seem reasonable, the illegitimate appear legitimate, and good people turn evil. Top speechwriter Simon Lancaster goes on a mission to explore how metaphors are used and abused today. From Washington to Westminster, Silicon Valley to Syria, Glastonbury to Grenfell, he discovers the same images being used repeatedly. Scum! Bitch! Vegetable! Whilst vulnerable groups are dehumanised, the powerful are hailed as stars, angels or even gods.

Simon Lancaster runs Bespoke Speechwriting Services Ltd and has written speeches for top politicians and the CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the world, including Unilever, Rio Tinto, Nestle, HSBC and Intercontinental Hotels Group. He is author of the definitive guide to speechwriting – ‘Speechwriting: The Expert Guide’, (Hale, 2010) the award winning ‘Winning Minds: Secrets from the Language of Leadership’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and ‘You Are Not Human: How Words Kill’(Biteback, 2018). As well as being an Executive Fellow at Henley Business School he also lectures at both Cambridge and Oxford Universities. Simon regularly appears as a media pundit on oratory and his ‘Speak Like a Leader’ TEDx talk has been watched more than 2 million times on YouTube.

7.30pm – 9.00pm – Writer & Artist Speed Dating 

Tickets are £7, and limited to 10 writers and 10 artists

If you are a writer please book your ticket here

If you are an artist please book your ticket here

Are you a writer who needs an illustrator? An artist who would love to illustrate?

Artist Catherine Wynne-Paton will bring artists and illustrators together for this fun evening of networking and workshopping.

Regardless of your level of experience come along and meet fellow creatives. There will be ice-breaking techniques to get everyone mingling and then settle down to some brief writing and illustrating exercises.

Catherine Wynne-Paton is a conceptual artist. Her practice rooted in words, actively exploring the potential for intense physicality generated from language in performances of The Lost Library, in producing archives of artist conversations on film and in using words from her collections as starting points for paintings.

Booking essential as places will be limited to 20 in total (10 artists and 10 writers)

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